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Houston County Living

Life's Hidden Beauties

Jul 14, 2021 08:58AM ● By Alexa Tebben
     Zamya Monet Fluellen, a 17-year-old up-and-coming artist, has used life’s curveballs as inspiration for
  creative expression. In middle school, Zamya was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, asthma and hypertension. As she grew up, doctors discovered she had an autoimmune illness – a disease that causes the body to attack healthy cells.
     Jovinia, Zamya’s mom, recalls how active she had been prior to this diagnosis. “She used to act,” Jovinia says. “She played a lead role in a play and she did tumble cheer. And then all of a sudden it just hit and you have to adjust your life.” Together they navigated this new lifestyle, but Zamya did not let it keep her down.
     Amidst hospital visits, physical therapy and continued education, Zamya found solace in artistic expression. “I always liked to draw,” she explains, “because I like using my hands.” At age 14, she began painting and discovered a deeper love for creating beauty out of nothing. “I’ve been hospital and home bound since middle school,” Zamya tells me. “But it’s not taking away my ability and my creative thinking.” Determined to indulge in the things that bring her joy, Zamya has refined her skills and is becoming an established artist.
     Favoring acrylic paint, she has a knack for abstract art. “I do a lot of figures and silhouettes of women,” she says. Early on in her painting, she created Unseen– the first in what would become a collection of three works. A partial silhouette of a woman without eyes, it provokes thought and admiration. “You don’t know what people go through just by looking at them,” Zamya says. Unseen invites you to consider that people are not always what they seem on the surface.
      The next piece in the set, Can You See Me, is a colorful expression of light and vibrancy that gives you pause. At first glance, the beauty and color distracts from the hidden figure begging to be noticed.
     And finally, Still Here wraps up the collection with a third figure. “It’s a lightness through darkness,” Zamya says, “because she’s getting past her life and the things she goes through.”
     Zamya’s maturity and sophistication is reflected in each of her paintings. She possesses an air of modest confidence far beyond her years. “My art has always been something that’s important to me,” she says. “I’m not as mobile so it’s always something that gives me an outlet and I get lost in it.” Swept away in each artistic moment, she forgets the world around her every time she picks up a paint brush.
     Art provides Zamya with creative freedom, and she relishes the opportunity to share her interpretations
  of the world with others. “Art is something that should be celebrated because it’s something that everyone can look at and enjoy regardless of who you are,” she says. “Everyone looks at it differently and everyone can use it differently. It’s a great thing to experience.”
     Zamya draws inspiration from her surroundings creating art based on her view of life. “I go in and out of the hospital with my autoimmunity and you see other kids and what they’re going through and that really inspires me,” she says. Zamya’s artwork is a wonderful reminder that beauty can be drawn from pain.
     Some of Zamya’s art is on display at The Emporium boutique on Highway 96. It is a joy for her to display her paintings for the public to enjoy. “I make Thank You cards with my art on them,” she adds. “It’s a different way to thank people. It’s more personal.” Among the Thank You cards are notes for all occasions– birthday cards, get well soon wishes, holiday greetings, etc. She also makes mouse pads with her prints on them.
      Zamya proclaims that her faith in the Lord carries her through each day. Whether she is painting, undergoing physical therapy or traveling to hospital appointments, she knows that the Lord is with her. Jovinia tells me, “He wouldn’t give us more than we can bear. That’s how I was raised and I teach her the same thing.”
     Zamya trusts the Lord’s will over her life and recognizes the skills He has blessed her with. “God gave me the ability and the gift to paint, so that’s what I use,” she says. Each painting she creates reminds her of the Lord’s faithfulness. With prayer, Zamya finds she can get through anything life throws at her. “It gives me a lot of peace,” she admits.
     When asked whether art is an innate talent or something that can be learned, Zamya says, “A little bit of both. I think that over time, with anything, you get better at it.” Of those that are not natural artists, she says, “They can develop the skill with practice.” But regardless if you are a natural artist, cook or singer, Zamya insists, “Everyone has a gift and ability and they should use it.”
     While art remains her true passion, Zamya has a variety of interests. “I really like science. It’s
  something I’ve always been interested in,” she says. Fascinated with pathology, she talks about wanting to study the causes and effects of diseases. While science and art do not usually go hand in hand, Zamya is intrigued by both subjects.
     Zamya relies on the constant support and encouragement of her parents. Jovinia talks about staying home from work to take care of Zamya and the valuable connection this has given them. “It allows us to be even closer because we’re together so much,” Jovinia says. She mentions Zamya’s father, Cliff, saying that his involvement has played a large role in Zamya’s life as well. Their encouragement has equipped Zamya to confidently pursue her passions without fear or reservations.
     Zamya is enthusiastic about expanding her artistic capabilities and exploring the many opportunities that lie ahead. With an energetic spirit, she surges forward in great anticipation for all that is to come. “I really just want to continue to paint and see where the art takes me,” she says simply.
     Her distinct life’s journey has guided her towards a love of art, and she would not trade the process for anything. No matter what may come her way, she will always have her passion for creating beauty out of empty spaces. With each painting, she encourages others to find joy in the journey regardless of their circumstances.

Photography by: Tinika Bennett Photography