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Her Story


Before Emilie grew a full set of teeth we saw the beginnings of her enthusiasm for art. By the time she was 2 years old, she could write her own name and draw family stick portraits.

Over time this enthusiasm grew into something of an addiction. As parents we were often frustrated (and more times amazed) at constantly finding beads, bits of paper, colored cotton balls—or anything else Emilie thought she could use to create art—all over the house. She loved accompanying Alissa to the craft store to brainstorm her next project and also to fill her pockets with discarded materials she found on the ground. Eventually, we were forced to let go of our parenting instincts and allow our 3-year-old to use scissors.

Download Emilie’s Art Book

At night we often caught Emilie hours after bedtime with a light on, an open book and a pad of paper, drawing her favorite characters. Once, Robbie tried to explain to her that bedtime is for sleeping and that she wasn’t supposed to stay up late to draw. When he saw her light on the next night, he went in to tell her to stop drawing and go to bed. She explained herself like this: “Dad, I wasn’t drawing, but I have so many ideas in my head I can’t get out, so I am writing a list of things I need to draw so I won’t forget.”

This passion and persistence with art shaped Emilie’s characteristics and attributes that we love so much about her. For example Emilie never gave up. She became infatuated with the character Puss N’ Boots after watching a movie. She took her infatuation to paper to draw this newly beloved character but couldn’t get it quite right. She spent every spare minute over the next two days and two booklets of paper drawing Puss N’ Boots over and over, until she finally declared, “Mom! Dad! Look at this! I finally did it, I got Puss N’ Boots just right!”

It was obvious to anyone who knew her that art was how she expressed herself and viewed the world. Emilie came to us one day with our family in Play-Doh. She was explaining each member of our family, and Alissa noticed a blob of Play-Doh on the belly of her figure. Alissa was immediately self-conscious of her weight until Emilie explained, “…and this is Mommy. and this [pointing to the blob] is her camera hanging on her neck.” Art was a way for her to not only express herself but also a way for us to understand the world through her eyes.

Video: Making a Bead Necklace…

How to Make a Bead Necklace from The Emilie Parker Fund.