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Transforming Tragedy | Selena Stahl

Art can be defined as the means to express imagination through visual means. The meaning behind a piece of art is left up to interpretation by artists and viewers. The meaning taken from the piece of art is shaped by individual circumstances. For the artist below, art serves a deeper purpose: to heal.

At age eleven, Selena Stahl has experienced a tragedy that not only devastated her family but shook the entire community as well. On October 30, 2018, Selena’s three siblings were killed by a vehicle while boarding their school bus. An incident that drew national attention from the press, further upending the insurmountable grieving/healing process that already seemed daunting to her family and friends.

Overwhelmed by the unwanted attention and the constant deluge of opinions about the accident, Selena withdrew into a dark place mentally and found herself blanketed by depression for more than a year afterward. But as she eventually emerged, she realized that art had become her saving grace.

For Christmas in 2019, Selena received art supplies. This gift reminded her of the desire to create that had ignited her imagination since the second grade. Memories of drawing and comparing photos with her sister, Alivia, inspired her to create. She began to explore paint and other mediums and soon, for the first time since the accident, she felt alive again.

“You can put your feelings in the drawing; each color represents a different feeling,” Selena explained. “Yellow is for happiness. Blue for sadness. Red can represent anger. You can put all of these emotions on paper and get them off your chest- and that’s what I do.”

Now fourteen, Selena is still on her journey to healing but is in a much better place as she looks to the future. Her goal is to become an animator or graphic designer one day, living in Los Angeles, and traveling the world. But no matter where she goes, she will carry the message of healing and hopes to inspire others to get through their hardships by sharing her story.

“When I’m depressed, I can look at my sketches and start to feel happy again,” she says.

In the shadow of tragedy, Selena continues to honor the memories of those she lost by making art, pursuing her dreams, and setting an example for anyone who might benefit from the resilience of her creative spirit.

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