I was recently introduced to an art form that is completely new to me when I met Brookings Harbor High School junior Justin Godsy, who wears his art.
As he posed for photos in his unusual outer garments, he explained, “I wear my inside on the outside.”
As Justin turned his back to show the statement about anarchy sewn just below the waistline on the back of his jeans, he said, “Moving to Brookings, my art, and my guitar, saved my life.”
He explained that he was in trouble until his aunt, Christine Belmont, invited him to move from Portland to live with her in Brookings.
“I wasn’t getting along with my family,” he said. “I fought with my mom and I fought with my dad, and I made some bad choices, refusing to live by the rules.”
To add to his troubles, at about the same time he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful long-term disease that causes inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones and the joints between the spine and pelvis.
He traded his skateboard for a guitar, and began designing fabric art he could wear. He also came to the attention of several high school teachers and a teacher’s aide.
One of the teachers, Terry Brueckner, said she was immediately drawn to Justin when she read his clothes and studied the artwork sewn on them.
It wasn’t surprising that she noticed Justin. She could hardly miss him. The six-foot-four-inch young man wearing one-of-a-kind designs definitely stands out in a crowded school hallway.
Brueckner introduced Justin to instructor’s aid, Nanci Dill, when he needed to borrow an iron and ironing board. Dill, who is an award-winning quilter, offered to teach Justin how to use the sewing machine. She has also become one of his supporters.
When asked how he gets along with other students, Justin said, “Oh, they don’t like me. They say I’m the only black person in a white school.”
He doesn’t appear to be bothered by that attitude, and he admits that he does have friends.
He is currently studying, playing his guitar, designing more unusual garment art, and planning for the future.
He has big plans that include several forms of art. “I plan to go to the Culinary Art Institute in Portland, and also study photography and theater. I want to run my own theater,” he said.
It makes me feel warm all over to know that we have teachers and other staff members at Brookings-Harbor High School who really care about nurturing the dreams of all students, including those whose dreams are far off the beaten path.
As I looked and listened to Justin, I was convinced that he will, indeed, fulfill his dreams of success in his chosen fields of art. I can just see him wearing his art while artistically flipping a fancy meal over the burner in preparation for guests to eat at a banquet while enjoying a guitar concert in his dinner theater.
Go, Justin, go.