From July 1 through Aug. 29, the drawings and paintings of 19-year-old Hampstead artist Amber Wiggett will be on display inside Hampstead Town Hall, at 1034 S. Carroll St.
Wiggett, a graduate of North Carroll High School, has always been artistic. Her mom, Cindy Wiggett, said she first started noticing her daughter's flair for art when Amber was in kindergarten.
"I always knew she was creative," Cindy said. "She used to invent things when she was little. When she was probably 5 or 6 years old, she pieced together little pieces of fabric and made herself a dress. She also used her artistic talent to make many colorful sidewalk chalk drawings — usually Disney characters."
Wiggett said her daughter's creativity was shown in several areas. After developing a love of the theater in elementary school, she helped paint sets in high school and learned to apply stage makeup. Then she taught herself how to create special-effects makeup.
Even from an early age and as a casual artist, Amber said, she could always count on her mom to encourage her with any kind of artwork. Still, she said she has never been 100 percent satisfied.
"I always try to push myself to be better," she said. "During the beginning of high school I wasn't taking art classes and I found that I missed learning from others and being challenged and [being] taught how to improve myself. So in 10th-grade I started taking art classes again."
According to Amber, she found the instruction and inspiration she was looking for in her high school art teacher at North Carroll, Karen Trageser.
"There were usually a small amount of students in those classes so it was more like one-on-one art lessons," Amber said. "The way she taught was that, yes it is good to be proud of what you do but you can always learn more. She showed us where we already had strengths, even while we were still learning."
Trageser said Amber was "an exceptional and fearless art student."
"She was proficient in all mediums and had a willingness to learn and grow as an artist," Trageser wrote in an email. "[She was] brave in exploring topics that reveal human qualities and vulnerabilities and [was] always showing integrity in her art and as an individual."
Through Trageser, Amber said, she was able to widen her use of mediums.
"I used to use a lot of colored pencils," she said. "I was known for coloring my artwork in such a way that the colors were not really saturated. Learning about other mediums has helped me make my artwork better. It makes everything more vibrant and effective."
Trageser said she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Amber during her high school years.
"She was always confident in critiques, helpful and kind to others, and pushing herself to be a better artist and person," she said. "[She was] a joy to work with and be around."
Three of the 10 pieces she will exhibit at Town Hall are mixed-medium pictures. The remaining seven are acrylic or oil.
"A lot of my work comes from what I see or like," Amber said. "Other times, I work from a concept in society or from the way people react in certain situations. In one particular painting I have a girl who is in some parts of the picture smiling and happy, but the picture is split up into sections that show what is really going on inside her mind, so you also see her upset or emotional."
Lorena Vaccare, administrative assistant for the Town of Hampstead, is in charge of art exhibits at Hampstead's Town Hall. She said Town Hall has offered people a chance to exhibit their artwork and photography for many years. She said the idea of exhibiting local art came from the former assistant town manager, Tammy Palmer, more than a decade ago.
"We try to keep the walls covered," Vaccare said. "It really adds interest to Town Hall. We've had pen and ink drawings, watercolors, oils, acrylics and photos. We can pretty much exhibit anything that can be hung on a hook. The artist puts [contact information] next to the artwork and many have business cards out. Some are also offered for sale."
Vaccare said they have an ongoing advertisement on the town's website, hampsteadmd.gov, and on their Facebook page as well as in the town's newsletter. Anyone interested in setting up a free exhibit of artwork or photography can contact them.
"I think the public really enjoys it," Vaccare said. "We get a decent number of attendees at town meetings and zoning meetings and we have homeowners associations who book their meetings in Town Hall. They all seem to enjoy the artwork. During the day, older people in particular who like to get out and about often drop in."
Amber, who just finished her first year at Carroll Community College, has not taken art classes in college but said she hopes to add art into her college schedule next year. She said she isn't sure if it will be part of her future career.
Cindy said she supports whatever career path her daughter chooses to follow.
"I hope she does what makes her happy with her art," she said. "She at one point wanted to be an art teacher but she was afraid that might make her lose her joy of creating her own art, if it became her job."
No matter where her life path takes her, Amber said she will always create art. She said she is currently looking into the Disney College Program in Florida, which offers a variety of study opportunities in art and other areas.
"It is free tuition if you work in the park [as a way] to pay your tuition," she said. "I'm looking into becoming either an animator or voice actor."