She has a heart of gold and a nature as beautiful as the butterflies she colours in her Dover Stain Glass Butterfly books. She was born with Down Syndrome, but has not let it deter her from anything she wants to do.
Local artist Jessica McIvor’s story broke initially with the social media craze of Facebook, a feature by The Similkameen Spotlight, then onto Global BC News, resulting in an even larger following on Facebook. On Monday, Dec. 2 Jessica’s story was featured by The Huffington Post and she was interviewed by CBC Radio West as well.
McIvor loves to draw, paint and colour. She is quite particular about her choice of medium for colouring—she uses only the fine tipped Crayola Felt Markers. Although most of her artwork is hand drawn and painted or coloured, Jessica does enjoy her Dover Stain Glass colouring books and velvet colouring posters.
“I like it, it makes me happy,” says McIvor when asked why she does so much artwork. She is ambidextrous. “Jess can start a project with one hand and finish it with the other,” said mom, Nicki McIvor. Although she can use both hands to create, mom still needs to make her take a break now and then.
Jessie’s Arts began on Facebook Nov. 13, thanks to the efforts of Becky Vermette, support worker with the New Beginnings program in Princeton. “Jessica is so happy with this,” said Vermette.
By Nov. 18 Jessie’s Arts received 1000 likes and by Nov. 23 the page had reached 2000 likes. On Nov. 27 her interview aired on GlobalBC. During the interview Jessica became overwhelmed, and tears came streaming down. “Not to worry,” said mom Nicki, “They are tears of joy. Her heart is overflowing with love for all of you.”
The requests for Jessica’s art work have been pouring in and she has been working like crazy to fill the requests. Very special requests (like for folks who have suffered a loss) are bumped to the top of the list. Jessica’s art work has been mailed all over B.C. and throughout the Canadian provinces. She has fulfilled requests worldwide, mailing to Ireland, Spain, Hong Kong, New York, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Indiana and most recently Australia.
There is no charge for her artwork, she just wants to, “make people happy.”
Donations to assist her with postage fees and replenishing of her art supplies are accepted. Her felts alone, for instance cost $6 a package and she goes through a minimum of one a day. She also uses her pencils, sketch pads, canvases, paints, her Dover Stain Glass books and her velvet posters.
Stories of her inspiring others to create and how her art work is making people feel better are spread through out her page. “I’m dealing with a chronic illness and am so happy to have your beautiful artwork in my home because it’s beaming with your positive energy,” is one of these comments. This is one thing that mom Nicki was hopeful for. “I hope that Jess’s story helps other people and people like her, I hope it gives them the courage to try whatever it is they want to do” she said.
The Princeton Community Arts Council has joined in to promote Jessie’s Arts and now has 5×7 Jessie McIvor Art Prints available at the Sunflower Gallery for a minimum donation of $5 each. All proceeds will go towards the purchase of Jessica’s art supplies. Thanks to Alan Parsons for making this happen.
Jessica has also entered the Arts Council’s Crazy Christmas Tree contest. Her tree made of marshmallows and candy kisses is on display in the old Bug Nut store next to the Sunflower Gallery for the next two weeks. Be sure to stop by and place your vote.
Jessie’s Arts has raised $140 through auctions of art and Jessica herself is giving $60 for a total of $200 for the Philippines; that will be distributed via Princeton’s Red Cross. Jessica and her mom are currently trying to set up a fundraiser for The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) – watch Jessie’s Arts for more information. www.facebook.com/jessiesarts30
With almost 3000 likes as of Monday Dec 2, thankfully Teresa Hallatt Hilts is helping out with the administration of Jessie’s Arts. Mom Nicki is spending hours a day managing the page and organizing requests.
Although it is a little ‘nuts’ around the McIvor household these days, it is full of laughter and smiles. As for the experience with her new found fame, Jessica says, “I’m kind of speechless and want to say thank you to the oh-so-many wonderful and kind people that are supporting my art work.”