It was in junior high that an art teacher told Georgia Brooks she was creative.
“Whatever I was doing in her class, she would tell me that I was creative,” said the North Augusta resident. “She said I should go into design or something like that, but I didn’t think much of it.”
As a child, Brooks was interested in singing and dancing. She even sang with a glee club at Carnegie Hall. However, in the 1960s she took an interest in painting. It started with wanting to decorate her kitchen.
“I wanted something to hang in my kitchen and I started pricing pictures. They were so expensive. I thought to myself, ‘I can do that’.”
So she painted a fruit bowl to hang in the kitchen.
“It turned out better than I thought it would,” she said.
It was the beginning of nearly two decades of paintings that were based on photographs, documented major world events and captured family moments.
“I never went to art school. I’ve always said it was a gift from God,” she said. “I would sit and just do it. It would just come out.”
Brooks held her first exhibit in North Augusta, where she’s lived since 1996, from May 1 through June 2. The exhibit, held at the Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta, featured numerous oil paintings, and one that was done in pen and ink.
“Most of the paintings were inspired by pictures in magazines,” she said. “Whenever I saw something that got my interest, I wanted to record it by painting it.”
Time and National Geographic magazines were often the sources for many paintings, she said.
One of the paintings in the exhibit, Watts USA, documented the riots that took place in Los Angeles in 1965 and includes scenes from other riots that occurred in the years following in Detroit and Newark, N.J.
“It’s comprised of pictures I had seen throughout the ordeal, so this piece captures the whole thing,” she said.
The painting includes depictions of the riots, looting, buildings that were set on fire as well as the fear and uncertainty many had during the time.
“It was my most ambitious piece,” she said. “It tells the whole story.”
Of all her pieces, her favorite is her painting of the famous image of Coretta Scott King and Bernice King at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, she said.
Brooks showcased her artwork often when she was in New York. In 1964, some of her paintings hung in the Orthodox Protestant Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.
Since the 1970s, Brooks hasn’t done much painting. Since moving to North Augusta, she has enjoyed designing her home in an oriental style and has created a memorial garden in memory of family members who have passed away.
“That’s the type of art I’m doing now,” she said.
When she’s not working in her garden or home, she’s actively promoting the arts in North Augusta. She is a member of the Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta and a board member with the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council.
One of her favorite things is dancing during the Music in the Park events, she said.
Brooks is also a member of First Baptist Church of North Augusta.
As for her artwork, she’s enjoyed sharing it with others.
“It’s been a blessing,” she said of the experience.