Local art teacher to showcase animal inspired artwork

Kenmore West and Buffalo State graduate Jacki LaRocque has been preparing for an entire year for her first solo art show – which has completely taken over her apartment. LaRocque is a full time, first-year teacher at Niagara Charter School and creates most of her drawings with pencil or charcoal. She also uses her own mixture of graphite, water and paint that believes makes her artwork more interesting and original. Her ‘empathic heart’ sparks her creations.

“I feel emotions very deeply,” LaRocque said. “It’s both a blessing and a curse. For someone to hang their artworks and let people look is such a raw, vulnerable feeling. I am proud of my work; however, it is a window to my mind.”

In addition to drawing, she has recently started painting animals, which she has a strong affinity towards. Animals are the inspiration behind her upcoming exhibition. Her artwork will convey her thoughts and feelings on relationships between humans and animals.

“I feel deeply connected to all animals” LaRocque added.  “I feel that people justify and desensitize cruel behaviors because of a false sense of superiority over animals. But what happens when roles are reversed? What happens when we view humans in the place of cruel situations? Only then does it not sit well with us. Some of my pieces signify that cruelty. But others express the soulful intelligence of other animals. It is up to us, as a whole, to do our part to end animal cruelties.”

Jacki has been creating since she was a little girl. Some of her fondest memories are painting flowers at the dinner table with her mother. She credits her creative family, and her father, for challenging her to look outside the box and helping bring her imagination to life. LaRocque is obsessed with progress, and she finds herself spending a lot of time on one piece, capturing every detail and studying her subject to get it just right.

“I have found the most important detail is in the eyes- every animal I paint has soulful eyes,’ LaRocque said. “You can see right through them and as humans, that’s how we connect with others. So why can’t we connect to other species? I try to capture that. I want these animals to stare right at you and you have connect to them. Only if we feel a connection do we become more empathetic. This world needs more of that.”

LaRocque’s exhibition is this Friday, December 1st, from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., at Elmwood Gallery for the Arts, located at 1045 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo. For more information, please visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jaclarocqimage1.JPGue or Instagram @jackisheax3.

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