Gianna Tesone started her freshman year of high school like many of her peers – with a combination of natural talent, curiosity, and a desire to figure out who she was made to be. Now a junior at Point Loma Nazarene University majoring in Visual Arts and competing as a varsity track athlete, Gianna shares about some of the aspects of her high school experience that led her to where she is today.
How did your experience with arts at Valor help you develop as an artist?
I was passionate about the arts prior to starting high school, and the classes I took only helped fuel my passion. I began to develop my childhood dream into something more refined and mature. It was not until my senior year I decided to take my talent as an artist seriously and pursue it as a vocation.
Who were some of the people in your life who encouraged you to pursue art?
Overall, many of my teachers were incredibly encouraging and enjoyed supporting and following my artist journey, some even bought smaller pieces from me. As a young artist still trying to figure out my voice, these simple gestures gave me the encouragement I needed to take my practice to the next level.
I took painting classes with Hayes Trotter all four years, so he was able to watch me grow and develop as an artist throughout my time there. He believed in me and helped build a platform for me to become a practicing artist.
How have you been able to integrate your faith and art?
My faith has always been the most important part of who I am. I came into my calling as an artist as I grew stronger in my faith and walk with the Lord, allowing me to become confident as more doors opened up in my favor, making it apparent this is what I am called to do. Because of this, I can only honor the Lord through my work. I aim to point back to my Creator through every aspect of my artwork.
As I began to produce more work during my last year at Valor, people began to take greater notice and request to purchase. Knowing that someone loves my art more than I do is the greatest blessing to me. This is how I love to serve people and grow His Kingdom. I want people to see not my artist hand, but the hand of the Divine Creator and Artist, as I am simply a vessel of his love and beauty.
How did high school help prepare you for what you’re doing now?
In the arts, every senior is required to present their work in showcase at the end of the year, similar to a formal professional gallery opening. I took my showcase very seriously and gained experience and knowledge I later applied to my first solo gallery exhibition last year. The rigorous learning environment and fine-tuned skill set taught in the classroom are sufficient for preparing to enter into the real world, but it is when the student applies and executes the skills learned to every-day life that he or she experiences growth and success.
I encourage current students to take full advantage of the tools they are given now to prepare them for long term success.
What was your favorite part of your Valor experience outside of arts?
I also ran track for my four years at Valor. My team was my second family, my coach was like a father to me, and I learned more about myself from this sport than almost anything. Those years of grueling practices and emotional competitions were some of the best and transformative times of my life.
Track is inherently an individual sport. You compete against yourself every time you step onto track and get into the blocks. You have to overcome any and all negativity of yourself as you race against the clock. You cannot win against others if you don’t win the fight with yourself. From this sport, I gained tenacity to overcome any situation, knowing I am backed with the confidence and strength of the Lord. It is now the reason why I am at Point Loma with an athletic scholarship and second opportunity to compete at the collegiate level. I couldn’t be more thankful for the blessing it has been to me to get me to where I am today.
To see more about Gianna’s art, read her feature in the SD Voyager.