Empowered and Encouraged
School pride can be sparked by a number of moments such as witnessing a game-winning touchdown catch on a Friday night, listening to your alma mater, scanning through your yearbook, or putting on your school colors. Many local students experience not only school spirit, but also hope, positivity and empowerment whenever they walk past the murals by Bayou Blue native Kassie Voisin.
Kassie first started her professional painting career four years ago, although she’s had aspirations of being an artist since she was around four years old. She realized she could make a living off her longtime hobby while she was working as a medical assistant.
“I would paint orders at night, and I actually started to bring canvases to work, like orders, and put them in the medical closet. My customers would drive by, and I’d run in, grab them and give them their orders. It kind of just blew up from there,” Kassie says.
Her business, Murals by Kassie, was jumpstarted by a viral Facebook video of Kassie completing a mural. The video received over a million views.
“That was actually my first mural that I did when I started full time. I actually stuck my little camera on a paint can just to actually critique myself. I posted the video, and it blew up overnight. I remember me and my husband waking up the next day to our phones just blowing up, and we didn’t even know what to really do with it,” she recalls.
Although she received mural requests from all over the country (she recently accepted an offer to go paint a mural in the historic Angelus Temple in Los Angeles) after that video, Kassie has managed to stay busy locally, painting for homes, businesses and schools.
The talented artist started inspiring the youth at schools three years ago when asked to do a mural for Village East Elementary. Roneka Coleman, principal of Village East at the time, says they wanted a way to make the school more welcoming and presentable while also giving the students a sense of pride. She says Kassie’s murals, which total around 12 to this day at Village East, have met these expectations and given the children exposure to a different culture–the world of art. They are excited after each summer to see what new inspirational quote, silhouette, landscape or characters Kassie will add next.
“Village East is one of my favorites just because I started there whenever I really didn’t know what I was doing. It stuck with me. I’ve been able to talk to a few kids, and some of them are in my shoes, where they just love art,” the inspirational painter says. “I see them doodling in their notebooks when they are walking past me in the halls. They all enjoy the artwork. I feel it really does brighten their day, and they spend so much time at school. I know it’s simple, but just seeing them light up when they see it just makes my day.”
Since painting that first mural at Village East, the determined artist has gone on to do murals at Elysian Fields Middle, Honduras Elementary, Oaklawn Junior High as well as schools in Lafayette, Jeanerette, St. Charles and Houston. She hopes every child who enjoys her murals will not only feel encouraged by the artwork, but also by the illustrated quotes themselves.
“I’ve told a few teachers that they have the biggest part in making an impact on these kids and showing them that they matter, but I’m just grateful to have a small part in that by painting these quotes. We don’t know what their home lives are like, and they spend so much time at school. Even when they walk through these halls and read these quotes, they automatically know that they matter, that they’re important, that they’re loved,” she says. “If they don’t hear it anywhere else, what we’re painting will tell them that. So I really push for encouraging quotes to accomplish the empowerment.”
On top of providing hope to kids at various schools, Kassie spreads optimism with her nonprofit organization Canvas for Kids. Once a month, her organization paints a mural and does a full-room makeover for a child battling a devastating illness such as spinal muscular atrophy or cancer or one that has special needs.
“I like to get to know the people that I’m painting for with the schools. I like to walk through the halls and get to know the kids and their personalities,” says Kassie on what inspires her. “With homes, I like to talk to the parents about their kids and see what they’re into. Just getting to know the families really helps to inspire you.”