By James Locklear
PEMBROKE – Michela Bullard channeled her inner creativeness as she sketched the silhouetted image of a hawk.
She had no idea where the drawing was headed until she penciled in a bare oak tree. Before long, she added a glowing orangish yellow full moon in the background. As she tweaked the image over the next couple of days, the sketch quickly took shape. The final touch was adding blossom buds to the bare oak tree’s limbs, a sign of the arrival of spring.
Michela’s impressive artwork was recently selected as the logo for the Lumbee Tribe’s annual “Dance of the Spring Moon Powwow” set for May 6-8 at the tribe’s Indian Cultural Center near Pembroke.
The Purnell Swett senior art enthusiast said she was pleasantly surprised to find out her drawing had been selected. Now, it’s out there for the rest of the community to enjoy, adorning thousands of t-shirts, flyers, cards and vinyl road signs announcing her beloved tribe’s annual powwow.
“It’s amazing to know my design will be used to advertise the powwow,” Michela said. “I was speechless when I found out. I couldn’t say anything. I am truly grateful it was selected.”
Michela is a shy, soft-spoken 17-year-old with big dreams for her future to the delight of her parents, Chris and Dr. Monica Oxendine. Her mother is a pharmacist at Lumberton Drug.
The proper upbringing of her childhood has molded the aspiring veterinarian into a scholar in the classroom.
Michela has a scholarship to Campbell University. She plans to major in biology and hopes to attend veterinary school. For now, she will concentrate on her schoolwork and her passion for art, something that has drawn her close to her art teacher Sheila Godwin.
“I hate to lose her,” Godwin said. “I will be crying on graduation day along with her mother. We get close to the students and they feel like our own children. It’s funny sometimes when they forget and call you ‘Mama’.”
Michela said she does this all the time. She said Godwin is more than a teacher for her and other students.
“She is like my second mama,” she said. “Miss Sheila really cares about the students.”
The love of art that drew her so close to Godwin began in Michela’s freshman year at Purnell Swett. Her mother is a landscape artist whose passion for art inspired her daughter’s love for drawing.
Realism is what Michela enjoys, as she has sketched out more than 200 realistic drawings. She still remembers her first art assignment – drawing a baby picture. Unlike many of her classmates, she chose to sketch a picture of her baby sister Malia.
The impressive picture of her sister drew rave reviews from her art teacher as well as her schoolmates. Soon, she was a commissioned artist taking orders from schoolmates who had fallen in love with her artistic abilities.
“I was amazed with it,” Michela said. “It just took off from there and I started showcasing my work. People started asking me to do their pictures.”
Her Facebook page is full of her drawings. She has done more than a dozen commissioned pieces for friends and schoolmates. It’s a joy for her to get paid to do something she loves, Michela said.
She is now working on a tribal sketch for a classmate who wants to use it as a tattoo.
“It’s just something I really enjoy doing,” she said. “I discuss my ideas with Miss Sheila. She helps me to figure out what works best and I always ask for her advice. It’s been a pleasure having such a wonderful teacher to work with. I will definitely miss her and I will always remember the things she has taught me.”
And, she will take with her the memories of having her work selected to represent her tribe at the annual powwow during her senior year. In her mind, the hawk will always stand strong, perched along that oak tree limb speckled with the spring blossoms about to bring forth color.
It’s just like her inner creativity imagined it would be.
For more information, visit the Lumbee Tribe’s website at lumbeetribe.com or call (910) 521-7861.
James Locklear may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (910) 536-3918.