When she was a young girl in Iran, Farah Nieuwenhuizen had a love for art — especially oil paints. She took private painting and drawing lessons until she and her family moved to Rio de Janeiro.
Throughout her schooling in Brazil, Nieuwenhuizen continued her involvement with the arts. Nieuwenhuizen first studied at the Escola de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro before moving to St. Louis to attend Washington University. She finished her studies at MU where she’s continued her involvement in the arts for the past 50 years.
Nieuwenhuizen taught at Hickman High School, staying until retirement. Nieuwenhuizen has also volunteered at the Columbia Art League, taught at MU and started an art festival.
Why is art important to you?
It shows your feeling, it shows yourself, it shows how you feel about everything. Color is such an important thing in our life. And the visual arts use a lot of colors.
So color talks to you. You know, there is something about color when you look at it, you feel like you know when you’re uplifted or you are sad because of the color. Color has different meaning and different feelings.
What are some of the things you have done for the community in terms of the arts?
When I was teaching at Hickman we had a multicultural assembly where we called all the students from all over the world. … I was teaching there about five years, and I recommended it.
And it was fantastic. We painted all the backgrounds, and they — every child or every group — had a presentation and presented it, and we had a whole morning that we had all the students come out and listen, watch and learn.
Ten years ago, I realized that Columbia did not have many art festivals, the only one that they had was the Art in the Park. So with three other artists, I started Fall Into Art.
We also have a booth that we do to encourage children to participate and make art. And that is really good too because so many people come with their children, and there are all these art activities for them to do.
Why are the arts important to society?
It’s something that you can express your feeling, and you can express your thought. The music is something for the spirit, and the visual arts, it brings out someone’s feelings. … So it’s really important to have it in the public schools, in private schools, they really should have arts; it’s very important for the kids to be exposed to the arts.