Student’s work makes the Smithsonian

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Public domain photograph of the Smithsonian Institution via Wikipedia

By Sara Gossman

Dimelza Broche, a UNF art and design student, is being recognized for her passion for art and her recent achievement in a countrywide competition.

Broche’s painting, “Soul Reader,” won the grand prize and headlines a new art exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, “Momentum,” was put on display in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at the Smithsonian Sept. 7.

The exhibition features the artwork of young adults ages 16-25 who have a disability and an undying passion for art.

“When they told me I had won the grand prize, I was like, ‘What? Are you sure it’s me? Are you sure it’s Dimelza?” Broche said.

Broche, 21, said she heard of the competition for emerging artists with disabilities through a teacher at Douglas Anderson School of Arts in Jacksonville while she was finishing up her senior year there in 2009.

Broche suffers from osteogenisis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that causes her bones to be brittle and easily broken. Although this condition has placed her in a wheelchair, she has not let her predicament impact her career as an artist.

Broche said she has been involved in art since she was a teenager. At the age of 13, she decided she wanted to be a painter. Her brother taught her the basics, and she was then enrolled in an art academy in her home country, Cuba, when she was 14. She moved to the United States in 2007 and continued to pursue her artistic goals, she said.

After graduating from high school, and then from Florida Community College at Jacksonville, she transferred to UNF in fall 2011 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

Broche said she named her painting, which she finished in 2009, “Soul Reader” because the eyes are the doors to the soul in western culture. She did not paint it with the contest in mind but painted it in her own time, she said.

She said the painting is about learning how to look at and appreciate things in life.

“In this fast-paced society, we don’t appreciate the things we have in front of us,” Broche said. “The painting is about seeing these things.”

Dimelza’s painting, along with the paintings of other winners from across the country, will be on display in the museum until Jan. 22, 2012.

Now that the rush of fame is passing, Broche said she is focusing on the future. She hopes to graduate from UNF and open an art gallery one day. Although it is her first semester at UNF, the university has helped her to become a better artist, she said.