Boyce student uses artwork to promote adoption

Communications Staff — August 13, 2008

Many children are known for their drawing prowess. Nearly all parents could recall a time when they discovered a mural constructed by their child with red, yellow and blue crayon on a bedroom wall.

With Melissa Konemann, however, things were different. Konemann says she “remembers always painting and drawing,” just not on bedroom walls. Konemann said her grandfather has a piece of art saved that she made at age three.

For Konemann, a sophomore at Boyce College, art is a ministry. During the month of July, four of Konemann’s charcoal portraits were on display on the walls of Java Brewing Company’s Frankfort Ave. location. The drawings depict orphans from four different countries, with
Konemann planning on donating the proceeds from the sale of the pieces to a non-profit adoption organization.

“I have a heart for adoption and missions,” said Konemann, a biblical and theological studies major. “I see a need for adoption, especially for us in America who are so blessed. I would love to see people in the United States bring kids into their homes.

“I know financially adoption is a challenge, so I want to do whatever I can to help. I see it as a Gospel mission, not just adopting a kid because you can’t have any, but also bringing them in to share the Gospel with them. There is just so much need.”

Konemann said the four drawings represent orphans from Romania, Armenia, Korea and India. Using pictures of children from those different countries for inspiration, Konemann said she particularly focused on the eyes in her portraits.

“They are close-up pictures,” she said. “I wanted to give it up an up close and personal view of the orphans, something that jumped out from the page and grabbed people’s attention. A lot of focus is on the eyes, which I thought was important because we express a lot through the eyes.”

With each portrait, Konemann posted a Bible verse related to orphans, such as James 1:27, which tells believers to look after widows and orphans in their distress.

While Konemann said she grew up doing artwork, she began to take drawing and painting seriously at age 14. Konemann said she took a few classes at a local art store, but has no formal training otherwise. Konemann does a variety of art — including Sumi-e, a Japanese art style — but said she particularly enjoys composing oil paintings and charcoal drawings.

Konemann’s father Robert is a master of divinity student at Southern Seminary. Robert Konemann came to Southern in the fall of 2007 after pastoring 12 years in a church he planted in Jacksonville, Fla.

Melissa said she had been looking for inspiration for her artwork for quite a while before she had the idea of donating her earnings to a non-profit organization.

Konemann said she would like for these four drawings to be the start of something bigger, a lifelong ministry.

“I would like to expand on the orphans. I want to do some more drawings and paintings,” she said. “I want to do very real, very personal pictures depicting missions, whether that is people groups, missionaries or converts. I would like to do several different aspects and several different series of people from different countries. That would be non-profit as well, with the money going to missions.”

Ideally, Konemann said she would be able to generate enough income from some of her pieces to enable her to create a good number of non-profit items.

From an early age, Konemann began creating art that lasted, a talent she is glad to use.

“It is exciting for me to do a piece and watch it come alive,” she said.

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