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Jeena Ann Kidambi and Aradhana Mudambi

Nurturing a growing passion for art


eena Ann Kidambi is a precocious four-year old with expressive, brown eyes and a passion for art that is years ahead of her time. She talks about artists the way some children talk about Disney characters or sports figures, explaining that she needs “to know about art for when I grow up and have my own gallery.” Aradhana Mudambi, of Webster, suspected her daughter had a special talent for art when Jeena Ann was just two years old. While working on her doctoral dissertation, a computer program called Score Best, which uses animated cartoons as a vocabulary learning curriculum, she was taken aback when Jeena Ann drew in pupils that were missing from the cartoon characters’ eyes. “I hadn’t noticed that the pupils were missing, but Jeena Ann had,” Aradhana says. Mother and daughter began participating in drop-in art activities. After Jeena Ann turned three years old, they enrolled in their first Saturday morning art class at WAM with Priscilla Harvey (Miss Priscilla) – and have taken classes together continuously since then. “I liked the atmosphere here,” says Aradhana. “Miss

Priscilla encourages the individual process for each child, and I like the fact that she takes the children into the galleries.”

When Jeena Ann is not taking classes at WAM, she attends preschool at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in North Grosvenordale, CT. She also volunteers every Friday at St. Mary’s Health Care Center in Worcester, where she visits and shares her love of art with her adopted grandmother, Sister Marie Bissonette, a former WAM art teacher.

Jeena Ann’s taste in art reflects a young and eager mind, absorbing all that it can. Vincent van Gogh is her favorite artist “because of the colors,” she loves abstract art, because “it’s totally messy,” and says the Greek Gallery is her favorite place in the Museum. Looking at the stars with her grandfather inspired her to recreate van Gogh’s The Starry Night, which now hangs on the wall in her grandparents’ house.

Her mother is determined to let Jeena Ann follow her passion for art, which is being nurtured at WAM. “She is really learning here,” says Aradhana. “It is friendly, but the teachers still push the kids to learn something.”

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