Cliffanie Forrester’s painting Uganda is strikingly evocative. A child in profile, black skin gleaming, white dress blowing in a gentle breeze we can almost feel. Behind the child, a blue sky, its deep hue reflected on her shaved scalp. It is pensive – viewer and child both seem to be waiting for something.
The lustrous skin and perfect mood of the painting wouldn’t have shamed Da Vinci, and Forrester, who debuted the piece on twitter in January to thousands of likes and retweets, has even more reason to be proud: she’s only 18.
And now, this high school senior from the High School of Art and Design in New York City will join ranks envied by many with decades more experience – her painting will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through the summer.
“WHO JUST COMPLETED THEIR LIFE GOAL AT AGE 18? ME.” she tweeted jubilantly on June 14, the day her painting went up in the Met.
Uganda‘s place in the Met is as part of a collection called P.S. Art 2016: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of NYC Kids. The collection will be on display until October 23rd, and will also display for several weeks on the brilliant screens off Times Square. Also, Forrester has been awarded a 2016 New York City Scholastic Art Award.
Forrester painted the large canvas for a class assignment, in which her illustration teacher, Maria Jimenez, told her students to try to “create a series of thematic artworks for their college portfolios.” Thematic is selling Uganda short. The painting, which was inspired by photos Forrester took on a missionary trip the summer before her senior year, could sit comfortably alongside works by Degas, who Forrester claims as a direct inspiration.
The art world can only hold its breath and wait to see what this prodigy brings out next.