Autumn de Forest, the youngest artist with Park West Gallery, has accomplished what she calls a “life-changing honor” that has affirmed her path as an artist and humanitarian.
On Nov. 7, the 14-year-old artist had the distinct honor of receiving the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award for Painting and Art, an award given by the Vatican. She received the award during a ceremony in Rome.
The award was founded in 2001 by the International Association of Culture and Voluntary Work ‘Uomo e Società’ [‘Man and Society’] and named after Giuseppe Sciacca, a young architecture student noted during his short life for his sporting activities and social concern.
The award is given to individuals under 35 years old who show talent in the fields of knowledge and art, are also role models to their community, and are a moral and educational example in society’s development.
“The Giuseppe Sciacca Award is a life-changing honor for me. I have always felt it is important to help others, but I never imagined I would be noticed for that – I thought it was the right thing to do,” Autumn says.
Autumn has contributed to charitable causes, such as Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, This Bar Saves Lives, the Diller Blind Home for Children, and encouraging art education as a participating artist in Turnaround Arts, a signature program for the Presidents’ Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
“If my artwork can help those who have been in a tragedy, or a natural disaster, by helping young people to express their hope, or even their fears with creativity, well, that is just an incredible feeling,” she says.
As a sign of respect and gratitude, Autumn practiced what she wished to say to the Giuseppe Sciacca Foundation, but did so in Italian. She thanked them for giving her the opportunity to inspire others, and that she will treasure the award for the rest of her life.
“I have always wanted to change the world for the better with my art, and if my paintings can help other young people express themselves, by providing money for musical instruments, arts education, or to help supply arts materials, that is just incredible. That is just an incredible honor,” she says.
She also created artwork with religious iconography that she presented during the ceremony. The artwork was displayed at the Gallery Coronari in Rome.
Although she has accomplished so much in such a short time, Autumn looks forward to writing new chapters in her life as she continues to be a force of good and inspiration.
“This award helps me be more than just a ‘girl who paints,’” she says. “I am so humbled, and for it to be my first visit to Europe is just incredible.”