ALEXANDRIA, VA–Noura Barka and Grace Barrett have been best friends since third grade, sharing classes, free time, and a love of art. Today, at 12 and 13 years old, the two girls are perhaps the youngest artists who will be featured at the annual and beloved Del Ray festival Art on the Avenue.
Noura and her mother, Sonia, love attending Art on the Avenue every year and seeking out and supporting all the new art and artists. Sonia thought, “Why don’t you and Grace have a booth?”
So you have an art idea. Who are you going to call? Pat Miller!
“She let us do it,” exclaims Noura. Last year’s Art on the Avenue was the pair’s first appearance as one of two booths that feature artists younger than 21.
“At first we mainly sold painted rocks, greeting cards, and Grace sold harry potter wands,” explains Noura. “Grace loves making different paintings and drawings and so that is how we came up with the idea for greeting cards, but I’m not really sure how we got into painted rocks… We do love painting so we wanted to incorporate that into something. It was a random medium we thought of; different than canvas.”
This year, as the girls have grown, so has their art. Patrons will fawn over some new clay pottery products in addition to their favored hand-painted greeting cards. Who knew you could make trays, drink-holders, incense holders, earrings, other jewelry, and many multi-purpose products all out of clay? These two girls, that is who! And now they are enlightening their neighbors.
But here is the catch. You cannot find their art anywhere else. They are exclusive sellers to Art on the Avenue buyers. On October 1, from 10am to 6pm, be sure to stop by their tent, Grace and Noura Artworks, otherwise you’ll have to wait a whole year before you can find their artwork again.
So where does the inspiration for such unique creations come from? How does one even know she is inspired to do art?
Noura, whose mother is also an artist, recalls, “In third grade a lot of my friends were into art, that was where I realized I really like it. But I get a lot of inspiration from my mom. She’s been in newspapers, had arts shows, and I grew up with her just talking to me about it. It opened my eyes a little, just seeing art in many different forms.”
Grace, who is also the daughter of an artist, says she cannot recall the first time she fell in love with art. “I have always been doing it,” she says. “I used to do little drawings, like of me in a field with the sun in the corner of the page. As I got older I’d do more fashion designs and more portrait drawings. It evolved gradually.”
Grace’s father is a painter, so like Noura, she also grew up with art as a constant. As the girls grow, so do their artistic interests. Grace has taken her father’s painting talent and transferred it to makeup art. “I like makeup art competition shows,” she states. Making The Cut and Glow Up being honorable mentions.
The girls obviously find inspiration everywhere in the world, and while their artistic tastes and flavors might change as they age, right now they are focusing on the near future, October 1.
Grace says, “I’m looking forward to seeing all the other booths. It is such a fun event to see all the cool art offerings and obviously to showcase our own.”
Nour adds, “I’m looking forward to seeing some of my friends there, the, getting to see our work, and seeing other booths. I glad I have something new to offer. I am more excited and more confident this year.”
Grace and Noura receive lots of support from their friends and family and teachers.
“Everyone has been pretty happy about it,” says Grace. “A few friends visited the booth last year, even some of our teachers and counselors from elementary school.”
The girls are still young, but not too young to dream. In the future, Noura hopes to become a fashion designer, and Grace dreams of learning as much as she can, whether it be makeup, fashion, painting, or pottery.
For more information on Art on the Avenue, visit artontheavenue.org.
[SEE ALSO: Don’t Miss Art on the Avenue!]