Big Interview Feb 07 - Akiane Kamarik
James Hastings meets child prodigy Akiane Kamarik, whose extraordinary paintings have stunned the art world, along with her intense encounters with God
Akiane Kamarik giggles like any other 12-year-old girl as she chases her brothers around the family garden.
The four of them fall into a heap before racing to see who can be first to jump on the trampoline.
At first glance, it is difficult to believe Akiane (pronounced ah-kee-ah-nah) has just returned from opening her latest art exhibition in a major city gallery. Or that recently, she was the guest on the first queen of American TV chat shows, Oprah Winfrey.
But little Akiane is a highly-acclaimed artist, a child prodigy whose paintings sell for upwards of £100,000 and hang in galleries and private collections across the world.
What’s more, all of her work is the result of dreams and visions of Jesus and heaven she has been having since she was just four years old.
She explains: “I can’t remember all my visions, so I need to paint them as soon as I am awake.
“I am self-taught. In other words, God is my teacher. I pray and wait for an answer in pictures, words or ideas. When I have a picture in my mind, then I think for a while how I can put it on the canvas.”
The Kamarik family from Illinois in America, were just another ordinary family trying to make ends meet on a run-down housing estate when Akiane started drawing.
All the children were home schooled and the family did not even have a TV set. Neither Akiane’s Lithuanian mother Forelli or American father Marcus were Christians – and both were sceptical about religion.
“One day when she was four, Akiane started telling me of dreams she was having about God,” explains Forelli.
“It wasn’t just the usual babbling you’d expect from a child, but very intense. Akiane used words beyond her age and the way she described her dreams and visions left us open-mouthed.
“We couldn’t understand where she was getting this information from. We didn’t attend church or read the Bible, nor did our friends. God was an irrelevance to our lives.”
Soon Akiane was writing poems and stories, then she searched the house looking for paint to draw. When she couldn‘t find paper, she became so desperate she unscrewed the back of a bookcase to use as a canvas.
“I needed to paint, it was something deep inside me,” she adds.
“One morning, God showed me where He lived. I was climbing transparent stairs. Underneath, I saw gushing waterfalls and as I approached Him, His body was pure and intense light.
“What impressed me most were his hands. They were gigantic. I saw no veins, no skin, no blood, but maps and events.”
Not only had she no religious upbringing, Akiane had never attended a single art lesson. Yet, art critics praise her technique and insight and are amazed at her ability. She rises at 4am five days a week to pray and paint, completing about 10 works a year. She prefers acrylics but uses oils for her larger paintings.
As her visions continued, Akiane’s family slowly felt their own lives transformed. When she was just seven, she led her parents to give their lives to Jesus.
“After I paint or write, I read the Bible,” she says. “I love to hear God’s voice. He is always quiet and beautiful. One day He said ‘You have to do this and I’ll help you. You can help people’.
“I said, ‘Yes I will,’ but I didn’t use normal words. I speak through my mind to Him.”
She writes and speaks four languages - English, Lithuanian, Russian and Sign Language.
One of her best loved paintings is The Prince of Peace
, a portrait of Jesus. But she had to search for months before she found the right model to pose.
She recalls: “If I was in the supermarket with my parents, I’d look at people wondering if they would be right, if their eyes were the eyes I needed, but I could not find a model anywhere.
“One day I suggested to my family that we pray all day that God would send the right one. The day we prayed, a man came to the door. He was a carpenter, yes - a carpenter! He was looking for work. When he showed up, I nearly fainted. I told my mother that was him, I want him to be my model.”
At first, the carpenter agreed but telephoned a week later saying he had changed his mind.
“He said he wasn’t worthy to represent the Master,” adds Akiane.
“He was a Christian and a humble person. I prayed that God would change his mind and that he would call back. He did, saying that God had told him to pose for the painting.”
Not yet a teenager, Akiane continues to sell as quickly as she can paint. A number of her works have been auctioned for charity, raising money for homeless projects in America and AIDS orphans in Africa.
She sums up her mission in one simple sentence: “I have been blessed by God and if I’m blessed, it is for one reason and one reason only, and that is to bless others.”
Go to www.artakiane.com
to see more of Akiane's art work, read her poetry and find out more of her remarkable story
James Hastings is a journalist based in Taunton
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