Lyme-Old Lyme senior expresses herself through art

Old Lyme — When Claudia Mergy was a young girl, she was constantly drawing.

Her parents noticed and took her at age 8 to art classes at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. As she progressed through art classes within the close-knit community, she discovered she had a talent for art that she should pursue.

At Lyme-Old Lyme High School, her art teacher, William Allik, helped her realize just how strong her passion for art is.

"He just gave me the space I needed and the materials I needed, and he just said, 'Go, have at it,'" said Mergy, a senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School who lives in Old Lyme.

Throughout her high school years, her artistic talent developed from more photo-realistic work to paintings that showed her brushstrokes and thought process.

Mergy, 18, plans to attend the University of California, Los Angeles, and major in fine arts after graduation.

Mergy, who enjoys still-life painting, said art is an opportunity to express herself.

The process of painting is time-consuming, she said. It includes setting up the still life, playing around with colors and lighting, figuring out a composition and then painting.

But the final product — and the moment she realizes she has created something that people can connect with — is well worth the effort.

"Just kind of doing something different and that people have never really seen before is really neat — to look at something and be like this doesn't look like anything anyone has ever put out there," she said.

Her artwork has earned awards, including state and national recognition from the Scholastic Art Awards. 

"She’s always had a tremendous facility for both drawing and painting and a great sense of design," Allik said. "She composes things beautifully and apparently effortlessly."

He also said she has a great dedication to her work and possesses a unique ability to work independently, which has been a huge part of her success.

"She'll start things here and bring back finished masterpieces," he said.

Along with painting, Mergy enjoys creative writing and has taken online creative writing courses through Johns Hopkins University. She also has explored singing and playing the guitar, fashion journalism and design, and crew. Fashion is another way to express herself, and she enjoys creating different looks.

She said she tries to focus on the things she likes to do and being who she wants to be. 

"I think it’s good that everyone has their own sense of who they want to be and who they are," she said. "I think everyone needs to show a little bit of individualism, or else we’re all just kind of the same, walking around looking the exact same."

"I think everyone has something in themselves that is different than anybody else, and I just think it's important for everyone to show that," she said.

In the future, Mergy hopes to travel to Italy and France to study art to help improve her own work. She is exploring future careers and hopes to discover her path at UCLA but expects it will be something along the lines of art.

"I want to be able to find something that I can do for a living and that I can look at and say this is fun, this is not work — and something that will make me a better person every time I go to work," she said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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