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Student exhibits one-of-kind talent

By BY LYDIA GRIMES – Feature Writer
There are many young people who display some artistic ability but not so many who are as talented as Jonathan Bell, a senior at T.R. Miller High School.
Bell is only 17-years-old but he has exhibited a talent for various forms of art since an early age. At the age of six or seven, he found that he was pretty good at putting his feelings into a piece of clay or onto paper in the form of a picture.
He has lived most of his life in Brewton, but there was a period of time when he was small that he lived in Sumter County. In fact, he attended school there until he was in the fourth grade. It was about that time that he was found to have an IQ of 130 and considered to be a gifted child.
His mother, Carla Johnson, said that her son has been drawing since he was 3-years-old and that he gets his drawing ability from his grandfather, Charles Bell.
Bell began to show a wide range of artistic ability. He excelled at several types of art and won his first contest for poem writing. Over the next few years, he continued to study and work at his art and began to have recognition of what he was capable of doing.
In the fifth grade he won a best of show award in the art show and was given a superior achievement in English. In the sixth grade he won another best of show in the art show, honorable mention in the design category and finished in the top 20 in the News Bowl USA.
In the seventh grade he won in the county art show and in the school art show. In the eighth grade he won first place in the county art show and three other awards in the school art show. In the ninth grade he won first place in Alabama Penman award for poetry, honorable mention for drawing in art class and third place in the art show for mixed media and printmaking. The honors continued in the tenth grade when he won first place in graphic art design in Alpha conference Pentecostal Holiness Alliance and first place in 3D creative design in Alpha Conference Teen Youth Quest.
As a junior he won first place in Instrumental Percussion Solo in Alpha Conference Teen Youth Quest, second place in T.R. Miller Art Show for mixed media and printmaking, best of show in 2D T.R. Miller Art Show and outstanding achievement in AP Art.
This year, he has won several awards in the school art show and won second place for a short story written for the school literary magazine. He was a semi-finalist in the 2001 and 2002 International Open Poetry Contest. He won honorable mention in the Faulkner State Junior College art show and his work has been published in the Kaleidoscope Literary magazine at T.R. Miller High School for the years, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
He was nominated to attend the National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2002 and invited to go on a trip to London to do missionary work this month. However, he was unable to go due to his participation in the senior play which is the same week.
Art comes in many ways to Bell. He writes poetry and short stories as well as draws. He writes music and can play the drums, electric guitar and keyboard. He has even preached a trial sermon. This will come in handy later as he plans to be a missionary in the future. His greatest hope is to be able to go as a missionary to Japan where he can also be in the middle of what he considers to be the best place for animation.
Bell started drawing animation when he was in the eighth grade after receiving inspiration from a Japanese animation show on television.
His love for animation has led Bell to compile a large collection of stories that he has illustrated. He starting compiling comic book characters while he was in the eighth grade and made his own comic book entitled, "Legend of Powersword."
He has been offered "the big bucks" to publish his comic book characters, but has elected not to do it at this time. The offer he received was for the comic book alone and did not include some other options that Bell is interested in pursuing. His plan now is to sell the idea again to finance some of his other goals.
His future includes being a missionary, but he wants to finance himself with his art.
He plans on attending Emanuel College in Franklin Springs, Ga. for four years and major in Christian ministries. He then wants to go to Savannah College of Art and Design to further his studies. He was offered a full scholarship to the Chicago School of Art and was chosen to be on the Kids' Board at the Lego company when he was 10-years-old.
Bell is a member of Victory Christian Center Church where he plays the drums and is a student in the Sword of the Spirit class and drama club.
He credits his family as having been with him all the way in his endeavor to practice the art he loves.
Bell lives with his grandparents, Charles and Amanda Bell, in order to help with his grandfather who is a double amputee. His mother, Carla Johnson, his step-father, Willie Johnson, two brothers and one sister live nearby.
With praise like that, Bell is sure to find his niche in the world of art in the very near future.