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Creating True Beauty In The World, by Tess C Taylor

Growing up beside the warm waters of the Carolina coastline, Eugean knew from a young age that he wanted to create something beautiful in the world...

taylor

Growing up beside the warm waters of the Carolina coastline, Eugean knew from a young age that he wanted to create something beautiful in the world.

Despite the objections of his conservative Depression-era parents, Eugean knew he wanted to build something that transcended life in the sleepy seaside village of Mount Pleasant that his father had helped to construct after World War II. Following the life-changing devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which all but destroyed his family home and put his father into an early grave, Eugean finally had a chance to escape the confinement of the small-town life he had known. So he headed off to Savannah, Georgia, where he enrolled in a prestigious college of art and design to pursue his dreams.

Four years later, and a bit wiser, Eugean returned to his hometown, which was still going through a period of rebuilding and ripe for young men like him looking for new opportunities. He obtained employment at a local newspaper and began designing clever outside-of-the-box advertisements, quickly becoming a favorite among the many who worked in his department. Winning awards and earning recognition was something he enjoyed as an emerging artist, and it made his mother proud. But, for some reason it wasn’t enough.

After a few years, the yearning became too much for his young spirit and Eugean began searching for something more. He headed north and started working as a graphic artist for a promotional products firm. He enjoyed the work because it allowed him to have freedom to express his talents in a competitive environment alongside some of his former college classmates who also worked there. Once again, Eugean exceeded all expectations of his employer, creating artwork that was worthy of the finest corporate brands. Unfortunately, this experience was to be short-lived.

In the summer of 2000, Eugean’s mother became gravely ill with breast cancer and he was faced with the decision to return home to Mount Pleasant to care for her. Lovingly, he cared for his mother while patiently waiting for the chance to get back to his art. Once she was recovered from chemotherapy and restored to her former lifestyle, Eugean began looking for work again. To his disappointment, however, the art world had gone on without him and he was left with few options for a man of his skills. This was devastating to both his spirit and his ego, and he found himself drifting into a series of depressing circumstances.

Eventually, Eugean met and married a young woman from a neighboring town and started to focus on a family life and a steady job. He took jobs in copy centers, signage shops, and even worked for his brother’s entertainment business for a time, all the while searching for ways to use his creative abilities. He dreamt of being a professional illustrator, but knew he could never support himself, let alone a family, on freelance wages. Things looked bleak as far as returning to the world of art.

Then one day, a bright light began to shine at the end of the tunnel. Eugean was invited to be the guest artist at a local community art event and he began designing the artwork that would be featured in their promotional campaign. With skill and determination, he created a beautiful logo that would be printed on every poster, tee shirt and flyer throughout the Charleston area. People started to notice him again. Finally, Eugean was given a chance to share beauty through his artistic talents.

During the official event week, Eugean was given the opportunity to display his artwork and greet visitors as they walked through the many exhibits. This would be his shining moment in his hometown where people could learn more about him and his love for the arts. He was nervous yet thrilled to the core.

At the show, a casually-dressed man, who was graying at the temples, approached Eugean at the reception table and began to share his story of being a young boy and how a special art teacher inspired him to pursue his abilities. After trying many careers, he had gone on to become a painter and shared his unique talents by creating murals on classic trucks and vans, which had won him many awards and international recognition. After sharing his fascinating story and talking with Eugean about his artwork, this gentleman said one last thing to Eugean. “You should become a teacher.”

Those words became a catalyst for what would become the single-most hopeful event in Eugean’s life. After doing some careful research, within months he was able to enroll in a special state-funded program that allowed working professionals to become certified teachers in areas of critical need, such as art. He started taking classes and later that fall, he was asked to start work as an art teacher for a local public school system in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Charleston.

Although Eugean faced many challenges and fears along the way, he knew deep in his heart that he would finally be able to create something beautiful in the lives of the children and families of the communities in which he served. Over time, his eager students excelled and won awards for their achievements. With his guidance, students worked together on community improvement projects that included painting murals and banners to restore beauty to the city he called home. Eugean became a favorite mentor for several disadvantaged students, who never before had someone to inspire them to pursue their artistic abilities.

Today, Eugean is still an art teacher, creating true beauty in the world -- not just with paint and brushes, but on the canvases of the lives of the children he teaches.  

 

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