By Douglas Maxwell Myer, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Olivia LeBlanc is a recent graduate of the Shrewsbury High School class of 2017. One of the talents that she demonstrated during her academic career was drawing. Throughout the course of her senior year, LeBlanc assembled a portfolio of Native American-themed work that focused on various aspects of their lifestyle, including clothing and animals that were part of their culture. LeBlanc’s grandmother’s ancestors were part of the Nipmuc Indian tribe that settled in parts of central Massachusetts and southern New England.
Originally from Shrewsbury, LeBlanc first became interested in creative arts when she saw works that were made by her older half-brother and some of her uncles. Seeing these pieces that were crafted by her family was inspiration for her to take up her own artistic endeavors.
“I originally got into drawing because I wanted to draw something for my dad for his birthday and I have been drawing ever since,” said LeBlanc. “In middle school everyone was also required to take an art class and I realized that I was really good at it so I decided to take it in high school as well.”
By the time she was a student at Shrewsbury High, she felt it was a great idea to incorporate her unique family history into the drawings she made.
“When I was little I always wanted to know what my middle name meant,” explained LeBlanc. “I used to ask my parents why they chose the middle name ‘Redfeather’ for me and they told me my grandmother’s backstory and who her ancestors were. My father wanted me to have a connection with my ancestors in some sort of way and I always thought it was really interesting.”
LeBlanc’s fascination for her family’s history would be drawn out into a number of remarkable illustrations.
While working LeBlanc would first research Native American culture to help her come up with an idea. Then sketches would be made on paper where she would figure out the composition and medium she wanted for a particular piece. On average it would take about one week to finish an illustration during the regular class time of her Advanced Placement Drawing course. LeBlanc considers her piece titled “Flight” – a pen drawing of a hawk that is made to look like Zentangle artwork – a personal favorite.
“I really enjoyed being a part of AP Studio Art my senior year,” noted LeBlanc. “Mrs. Cobb, our teacher, is an amazing woman and wonderful artist. I don’t think I would have done as well in the class as I did if it wasn’t for her.”
After graduating from Shrewsbury High School, LeBlanc will be attending Framingham State University in the fall, majoring in elementary education; she also plans to continue her passion for drawing as a hobby.
“I love being able to express myself in a way where I can draw anything I want and make it relate to my personality,” said LeBlanc. “It also helps me relieve stress and gives me something to do in my free time.”