An art student discusses her empathy for others.
Written by Danielle Pauly
Maxine du Maine strives to live a full life. A sophomore film production and art double major at Webster University, du Maine has had her work featured in the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport, Saint Louis Art Museum, History Museum and the Fox Theatre. All of this was accomplished while taking 18 credit hours.
“I live by a basic motto. Growing up, my mom always told me ‘Nothing beats a failure but a try,” du Maine said.
At the age of 19, du Maine was accepted into some of the top art institutions in the nation. However, she hadn’t taken a single art class since middle school. She hated the lack of creativity in art class so she taught herself. As a child, she loved to draw, constantly inspired by the elaborate stories made up in her head and those around her.
“For me art has always presented an escape,” du Maine said. “Whenever you’re young and sad, hungry, upset, something, some people turn to cartoons, and I would just pull out a piece of paper and draw a girl in a crazy situation that was too crazy for an eight year old to dream of like that, but I did because I was weird. But it was almost like I could control her outcome. In some way it gives you hope as to what your outcome will be.”
Photojournalist Steve McCurry is one of du Maine’s inspirations. His gallery “A Simple Act of Waiting,” is one of her favorites; a photo from it is currently her phone’s background and the subject of one of her pieces. McCurry’s emotion-evoking photography and art inspires du Maine to write, paint, draw and act.
To achieve her dreams, du Maine rides the bi-state MetroBus to Webster daily. It takes two hours to get to Webster, and two hours to get back home in the Delmar Loop.
“I’ve never related to people that don’t try at all. I just feel so blessed honestly. I never thought I’d be here. I’ve never gotten a lot of support from anyone except my mother,” du Maine said. “People like that didn’t really exist for me.”
Growing up, du Maine and her two siblings were subjected to many forms of abuse. One day they had enough, and the three siblings made the decision to run away from their father’s house to live with their mother. At the time, du Maine was in the seventh grade.
Her mother directed her children to the Bible any time they struggled with their identity or outward complications, something du Maine says has made her trust in God more and more every day.
“I’ve been chased by aggressive dogs – they fight dogs in my neighborhood – and men alike, typically high from something. The fact that I have lived to say that tells me I’m here for a reason and God has His hand of protection around me, and I am here on earth to do great things,” du Maine said.
From these experiences, du Maine strives to help others believe in happiness because she thinks it is something that should not be taken for granted.
“Compliment someone’s cute sweater or new haircut. You’d be surprised the impact it will make on their life. I certainly remember the few compliments I received in the midst of negative comments I got from school and home alike as a child,“ du Maine said.
Her idealistic outlook on life is one that she plans to carry into the future. With a double major, artistic success and strong empathy for others, du Maine feels prepared for anything the world throws her way.