This is the second part of a two-part series about the Summit High School students who were awarded this year’s Summit County Arts Exhibit Committee’s Bob Anderson Memorial Art Scholarships.
If it weren’t for a broken collarbone, Summit High graduate Calais Le Coq might never have realized her full artistic potential.
“I’ve always been really creative, like when I was little, always playing with paint,” Calais said. “I kind of just lost it a little bit. I got really into snowboarding — I would snowboard every single day in the winter — and I didn’t really have time for art.
“Last year, I broke my collarbone, and I was out for three months. I couldn’t snowboard, so I got really back into art. Me breaking my collarbone made me really get back into art.”
Combining two passions
Calais is one of two winners of the Summit County Arts Exhibit Committee’s Bob Anderson Memorial Art Scholarship. She said though she really likes oil painting, when she heads to California Polytechnic State University in the fall, she will be pursing a degree in graphic design in order to combine the two loves of her life.
“I got into because of the snowboarding industry,” Calais said. “I wanted to carve my career path to mesh my two passions, art and snowboarding, together. ... The next step is to spend four years learning the basics, and then go to grad school for product design, apparel design. I really want to go into the snowboarding industry, designing jackets, and maybe, one day, have my own company.”
Rather than having other artists as role models, Calais said having grown up in Summit County inspires her.
“Living in Colorado, the beauty I get to see every day inspires me more than people,” she said. “My dad has been really influential. He has his own fly-fishing company. I grew up watching him, and he designs his own fishing luggage, chest packs, and he’s also a photographer, so he’s taught me a lot.”
Family support, inspiration
Calais’ father, John Le Coq, said his daughter’s creativity is just part of her DNA.
“I have two daughters, and Calais has always been creative, always doing something artistic,” he said. “She’s very motivated. She skied 155 days this season and is still one of the top people in her class. Her skiing has spawned her creativity.”
John said Calais has been able to balance her sport with her art because of her passion and ability to remain focused.
“You gut it out,” he said. “If you love something, you make time for it and it becomes a priority. I think she has growing up with seeing that my work is my passion. She’s seen that work is beyond making money, making ends meet; it becomes your lifestyle.”
Both of his daughters have an attachment to the outdoors that will become part of their work and lifestyle, John said, and picking the right career and surrounding herself with like-minded people will make a difference in Calais’ life. He said he was very proud of his daughter for being awarded the scholarship.
“I think Calais is so proud,” he said. “Those little things are such a catalyst for encouraging that creativity. I think sometimes people have something — they are musically inclined, artistically inclined — and something squashes the opportunity. It’s those little awards and encouragement that you get along the way that empowers you to believe in yourself.
“It’s giving Calais that hope and inspiration that this could be a career that could be a lifelong passion.”
Calais started taking art classes with Sharon Speedy at Summit High School as a freshman, and Speedy said she thinks the young artist’s dedication and willingness to try new things will help her be successful at the university level.
“I think she’ll be great,” Speedy said. “She was always dedicated to everything she enjoys doing, so she was always able to balance her activities, as well as her school work, and did well in everything, so I think she’ll be able to get new, innovative ideas out easily and be very successful.”
Speedy said Calais is special and has worked hard to get where she is, always with a smile on her face, and is deserving of the accolades she’s been given.
“She’s not afraid to take her ideas and experiment and try new things instead of staying with the safe ideas and processes,” Speedy said. “She was in my studio ceramics classes, and she always had thoughts and ideas and they were always new and something different from what everyone else was doing, and I think that was really where she grew.”
Calais said she loves art as a creative outlet and making something out of nothing.
“You can have a blank piece of paper and turn it into something,” she said. “You can turn anything into art. It shows people’s personalities through their art and their style. … It kind of changes the way I look at anything. I look at details more. Even just enjoying Colorado, the colors in the sky when the sun sets, it inspires my art and the way I look at life more.”