Charitable 7-Year-Old Artist Named ‘Kansan of Year’

Post a Comment » Written on January 11th, 2008     
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MCPHERSON, KS (January 11, 2008) – The Topeka Capital-Journal has named seven-year-old Emma Marten one of its 2007 Kansans of the Year.

The girl, who attends Countryside Covenant Church, raised more than $4,000 by selling her artwork to benefit the residents of the small town of Greensburg, Kansas, which was almost totally destroyed by a tornado last May.

ArtistMost of the money was raised during an art show and auction held last September in her hometown. She also sold items at a show in nearby Hutchinson.

“I appreciate so much the wonderful acknowledgment by the Topeka Capital-Journal,” says her mother, Amy.

“Emma’s reaction to the award, and to every success of the art show, has been so refreshing,”  Marten says. “She just thinks it is all good – like she thinks having a friend over is good, or going to grandma’s is good.

“Her motivation was so pure,” Marten says. “She has a lot to teach us about humility and doing God’s work, simply because he asks us to do it.”

The family lives roughly two hours from Greensburg, and Emma had heard a lot about the tornado. “She has so much compassion and such a longing to help others, and the tornado was very scary for her,” Marten says.

From the beginning Emma was determined to help and decided on a plan after visiting a charity auction that featured artist Nancy Longman’s paintings. She asked her mother,  “What is a benefit? What are proceeds?” and “Can I do that, too?”

PosterMarten told Emma that she would help with a benefit if her daughter did 20 good paintings. Marten confesses she did not expect Emma to follow through. But the determined girl painted 25 instead.

Emma, who said she became an artist at the beginning of last summer, likes to draw and paint because she can create whatever she wants. With aspirations of one day becoming a veterinarian, it was only natural that the girl painted a lot of animals, including some formed in her own imagination. There was, for example, the “laguar,” a cross between a lion and jaguar. Being a Kansas artist, the youngster also painted large, brilliant sunflowers.

“When it became apparent that she was indeed serious about the whole project – working on pictures for hours, remembering the idea as the weeks and months passed, crying with the effort of finishing the two sunflower paintings – I realized that my turn to keep my part of the deal was drawing near,” Marten says. She scrambled to pull the auction together.

“Most of the bidders were people that we know from church and the community,” Marten says. “We also had several friends and family members bidding as absentees all over the country.”

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius sent a “very lovely, encouraging letter” to Emma prior to the auction. Longman was unable to attend, but sent the girl an original piece of artwork. “That package came the day before the art show, and just confirmed the fact that God was smiling on Emma’s project,” Marten says.

PoemThe auction raised $3,000. Some pieces were made into prints and postcards, which raised another $1,000. Some of the prints and postcards were sold in Hutchinson at the Kansas Kids Museum, where Emma helped paint a border.

“We want her to do her big gorgeous sunflowers for us,” museum executive director Barbara Rhoades, told a local newspaper prior to the event.

The money will be used to purchase items for the Greensburg schools, Marten says. The recipients were chosen through a process of elimination.

“When I first asked Emma, very early on in the planning stages, what she wanted the money to go to in Greensburg, she answered ‘food,’ ” Marten says. “When I told her that people were not actually staying in the town and were with people in places where they could eat, her next response was to buy Bibles for the churches.”

When Marten learned that insurance probably would cover the cost of replacing the Bibles, Emma decided she wanted the money to benefit the Greensburg school. Emma said she wanted the money to provide “whatever they need.”

Her “Poem for Greensburg” (lower photo) is one of the pieces that best captures the girl’s heart. “These words come from Emma’s desire that people would know that ‘God really is like this’ . . . and that more people would follow God,”  Marten says.

A copy of the piece was displayed in the Greensburg Booth at the Kansas State Fair.

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