By Meredith Walters | Photography Illustration by Maya Wells

She and her family were running late to Columbus where the Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing and Multimedia Contest award ceremony had already begun. Just as she slipped in the back door with a sigh of relief, a certainly nerve-wracking thing happened: she had to give a surprise speech.

However, East junior Julia Kuhr’s free-spirited, bubbly personality got her through it just fine; she even managed to make the audience laugh by cracking a joke. Her fearless, confident personality shines everywhere she goes, whether it’s in the crowded halls of East or in the art studio.

Kuhr has been drawing and painting in her mother’s art studio since she was young with the influence of her creative family.

“Art and making art has always been a part of our household,” says Julia’s mother, Theresa, who has encouraged Julia’s interest in art from day one.

The Kuhr family is a long line of artists including an uncle who’s an architect and an aunt who pursues interior design. Even as a child, Julia showcased her creative mind by inventing imaginative games with her older sister, Ella. Julia’s artistic talents lie on a broad spectrum ranging from metal pieces, sketching and painting to modeling, acting and singing. Julia won a silver key with one of her metal pieces in the Scholastic Art Awards that was created within the four walls of her art classroom.

“I’ve been [teaching art class] for ten years, and she is one of my best students I’ve had roll through with her skillset,” says East art teacher, Jesse Dornan.

Yet, Julia’s art is not confined to East because she uses social media to share her work with others. While scrolling aimlessly past the endless selfies and pictures of dogs on Instagram, one might pass a refreshing picture with a little more substance than the average post.

“When I’m in the mood to boost my confidence, I’ll draw something and post it [on social media] instead of just a picture of myself,” says Julia.

In addition to posting on social media, Julia continues to expand her portfolio in hopes of developing her skills for college by starting a blog dedicated to everything she does with art.

One of her most recent paintings, a self-portrait on a canvas taller than her, two-feet-by-six-feet tall, is dear to her heart with it being her first professional painting. Theresa said Julia stepped outside her comfort zone without fear, effortlessly throwing paint down to create her own masterpiece. This painting, titled “Double Vision,” can be found amongst all of Julia’s other award-winning art projects hanging in the art wing.

Julia draws her inspiration from places she visits on her frequent adventures. Taking her friends on spontaneous trips to new places in downtown Cincinnati is one way Julia uses outside influences to energize her art and to grow her friendships. One friendship that has grown with each adventure is with East junior Gabbie Glossner.

“She is really upbeat and caring all of the time,” says Glossner.

Julia intends to stay with art for as long as she can. She is planning on developing her abilities by pursuing a career in film-making and acting.

“The dream would be to win an Oscar,” Julia shares. “Now, when I go to the movies, I listen and pay attention to music and stuff like that. When I’m watching a movie, I get so mad because I’m not in the movie.”

Although winning an Oscar is the dream, reaching a place where she is truly content and satisfied is the ultimate goal toward which Julia is working.

“[I want to] just get somewhere where I’m happy,” Julia smiles, “And to bring a difference with some creativity.”