Crossing the globe to share gift of art
Rohnert Park’s Bailey Farren wants to inspire African kids to make art out of anything during upcoming journey
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By Mira Brody  July 31, 2014 09:56 am

It began as a joke – a can of chocolate frosting from her grandfather – and turned into a stunning recreation of the “Mona Lisa.” She does abstract mediums: “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” in soy sauce, a portrait of Albert Einstein in strawberries. Now, with her unique artistic skill, outgoing attitude and passionate energy, 17-year-old Bailey Farren will travel to Africa to teach an art class to orphans.

Although they are made from food products, her artwork isn’t edible, and when asked why, Farren counters, “Well, you wouldn’t eat an oil painting, so why would you eat a chocolate one?”


Meeting grandfather’s challenge

“Bailey, paint me a masterpiece,” Farren’s grandfather challenged, handing her the can of chocolate frosting, having watched her sketch a casual sunset into the remaining soy sauce on her plate after a sushi dinner. And she did. That was almost a year ago, and since then she’s won awards for her pieces, including Best in Class and Best in Division at the Sonoma County Fair.

“I want to work with kids who really have nothing…to show them they can make art out of anything,” she says of her upcoming trip. She leaves August 6. “They don’t need to wait for people in the U.S. to drop crayons off in order to make something beautiful, and it doesn’t have to be oil painting or a traditional art medium to be art. Beauty can be everywhere.” 

Farren’s pastor, familiar with her ambitions, introduced her to Renee and Kirk Asmen, who are part of a program called All Care, an organization that helps support better nutrition in orphanages overseas. She will be staying at an orphanage in Zambia for two weeks and then spending another week in Uganda, where she will be doing everything from “teaching to chucking peanuts.”

“We are often undeserving of the gifts we have been given, but now that they are ours, we are responsible for turning around and blessing others with them,” Farren says, noting that she is mostly self-taught. “I know we are called to share the talents and gifts we have, otherwise we wouldn't have been blessed with them in the first place.”

A natural leader, Farren has been home schooled most of her life, and although freshly graduated from the high school level, she has taken classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College and is just about signed up for the fall semester at SRJC. Although not yet set in stone, she hopes to study business entrepreneurship and is set in a minor in fine arts.

“When you’re home schooled, you get really self-motivated,” she says. “When I don’t know how to do something, I tend to take charge, go over there and learn how to do it.”


Confident in her own instincts

She’s already attended Boston University seminars on teaching but is confidant in her own instincts. She speaks in depth about the American school system. How after World War II the current classroom dynamic was created to provide women with teaching jobs, but that humans are most apt to learn in smaller more personal settings. She says students in America are often taught what to think, while kids in the orphanages she will soon inhabit have had virtually no direction.

“Just imagine how creative they’re going to be,” she says, the adrenaline clear in her tone. “They’re going to know what to do.”

Farren has been a ballroom dance teacher at Nordquist Dance in Santa Rosa for four years, loves tennis, basketball and running, and has four brothers who are constantly keeping her in competitive check. She is also very involved in American sign language committees and organizations, having picked up the skill of sign language two semesters ago.

“It’s a part of America very few people get to see,” she says. “Deaf culture is something that’s amazing, and it’s very different from regular American culture. It’s so accepting and joyful and energetic.” 


Mother awed by incredible gift

Farren’s wish is to provide others with the materials they need to adequately express themselves…to become original, creative artists.

“She’s just got this incredible gift, I’m her mother and I can’t believe it,” says Susan Farren, who also is her teacher.

“You don’t usually decide that you’re going to be a famous musician; you usually learn afterwards that you are gifted,” Bailey says, speaking with the belief that everyone has an artistic side waiting to be explored. “I want to share these experiences that other people may not possess.”

After finishing college, Farren hopes to move to a city, evidently to a place where the surrounding energy matches that of her own. 

She is deeply rooted in Sonoma County though, having been born and raised in Rohnert Park, and calls it “the most beautiful place in the United States.”

There are times when you run across someone who makes an impression on you, who improves your vision and inspires you, and Farren is definitely one of those people – a girl whose energy will no doubt ripple across the world and spark the beginnings of great things.

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