Name: Noel Peterson
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Achievements: Ranked first in her class at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School; past president of National Junior Art Honor Society; appeared on local television with her work; received two scholarships from Carnegie Mellon University; studies drawing, painting, sculpture, glass-blowing, and ceramics.
When leaders from around the world came to her hometown, young artist Noel Peterson put her best art forward. Selected to display her drawing “The Visionaries of Pittsburgh” in a show for Michelle Obama and other first ladies of the G-20 Summit, Noel took the chance to share both her talents and her beliefs. “While I stood by my piece and answered the leaders’ questions, I was often able to mention that I draw my inspiration from God. It was my goal to let people know that I believe in Him.”
How have you used art to serve others? I’m able to draw things for people to make them feel better, and I’m able to illustrate gospel principles and my own faith. Once I drew a portrait for my mother’s friend who was having a hard time. When she got it, she said, “It captures who I really am. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of a better me.”
What helped you decide to pursue art in school? I realized that God gave me a gift, and in praying and asking Him, I realized that art was what He wanted me to pursue. I started drawing more and doing more pieces, and when I auditioned for my school, they accepted me. I saw how direct the hand of the Lord is in people’s lives when you are trying your best to follow the commandments and read your scriptures and pray every day.
As you’ve shared your beliefs through your art, have you come up against opposition? Absolutely. One of my friends asked me how an intelligent person could possibly believe in God. I bore my testimony to her, saying that I know there is a God because I’ve asked Him myself in prayer, and He answered me. His words are true.
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists? I would admonish them to be wise hearted like it says in Exodus 31:6: “And in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee.” If you follow the commandments strictly and try your hardest to do the Lord’s will, you will succeed. The Lord will bless you with intelligence and wisdom to be able to create things more beautiful than you can possibly imagine. He’s done that in my life.
Photograph courtesy of the Peterson Family