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VECA Student Embraces Artistic Mentoring Opportunity


VECA Student Embraces Artistic Mentoring Opportunity

by Traci Jones

During the month of July, Carmela Berry, a self-taught artist and dual-enrolled Valdosta City Schools Senior, was invited by the Lanier County Chamber of Commerce to participate in a special one-on-one apprenticeship with life-long artist and world- famous muralist Andrew Sabori who, along with his wife Roberta, is currently working on the refurbishment of Lakeland-Lanier’s now nearly decade old historical murals.  Carmela and Mr. and Mrs. Sabori are creating a painted mural of Latino figures for a locally owned Lakeland restaurant from a vintage photograph. In adapting the black and white image to color, Carmela is learning from Mr. Sabori various painting techniques. “She learns very fast,” Sabori noted after only two sessions, “And”-- in response to some of Carmela’s portfolio pieces—“she’s good.” Because of her work ethic and talent, Sabori will invite Carmela back to Lakeland in the Fall to assist him in other projects as well as participate in the unveiling of the mural Berry helped create. 

Carmela attends both Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA) and Valdosta State University. When Carmela is not doing college and high school homework, painting or sketching, she tutors elementary and middle school students and helps lead a fine-arts club. Carmela is also an award-winning writer. Lakeland resident, Traci Jones, has been Carmela's teacher at VECA for three years and assisted in getting Carmela placed with Mr. & Mrs. Sabori, who is best known for his current seven-year travelling exhibit of his replica of an early 1930s WPA mural which once graced the walls of the Ellis Island Cafeteria as well as  his early years as a self-proclaimed “San Francisco hippie” who made poster-art for legendary artists such as The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix and The Animals at Filmore West, and portraiture of casino performers in Reno & Las Vegas such as Tony Bennett & Sammy Davis Jr. Carmela is the daughter of Heather Berry Soto.