Artist and WMU-Cooley graduate Elaine Charney unveiled “We the People,” a 33-inch by 27-inch watercolor to Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Tampa Bay campus Associate Dean Ron Sutton during a dedication on Friday, May 12. The work will remain permanently on display at the law school.
“We the People” was the recipient of the Cutting Edge Award at the International Society of Experimental Artists Exhibition in 2016. The painting is founded upon abstract principles but also includes some representational realism.
During the dedication, Charney spoke to WMU-Cooley faculty, staff and students about the meaning behind her painting. First called “The Gathering,” it was later renamed “We the People” in honor of WMU-Cooley Law School and in recognition of today’s divided world.
Charney expressed her gratitude to the law school and how it influenced her life. She stressed the value of finding and pursuing a second passion after practicing law.
“I love law, but now I am 180 degrees different,” Charney said. “I went from the left side of the brain to the right side of the brain. When I first picked up a brush I went, oh my goodness, this is a calling.”
Charney served as an administrative law judge in Michigan and worked for the Department of Homeland Security before she turned to art as a career in 2006. She teaches beginning and intermediate through advanced watercolor classes for adult community enrichment at Suncoast Technical College. Charney was presented the Cutting Edge Award at the 2016 International Society of Experimental Artist. In 2015, her art was accepted into the National Art Exhibition-Punta Gorda and has received many awards for her work.
Charney earned her law degree at WMU-Cooley and studied art and watercolor design under Douglas H. Teller, professor emeritus, George Washington University.