Artist’s work helps promote public broadcasting

Nick Blank
Posted 4/19/17

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Echo Saunders, 27, has been painting and drawing her whole life as a hobby, so she never expected something she would do for fun would thrust her in the spotlight.

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Artist’s work helps promote public broadcasting

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Echo Saunders, 27, has been painting and drawing her whole life as a hobby, so she never expected something she would do for fun would thrust her in the spotlight.

The Keystone Heights resident’s name was recently broadcast all over the airwaves of Public Radio station WJCT 89.9 FM for having submitted and designed the winning entry for the station’s 45th anniversary t-shirt contest.

She spent most of her life watching PBS whether it was children’s programming such as “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and “Arthur” or listening to such radio programs as “Car Talk” and “Science Friday.”

“I’m grateful for how much I learned from PBS, how much interesting culture and art and new ideas I was exposed to,” Saunders said.

In her design, Saunders forms an earth with the words, knowledge, wonder and life. Saunders said she derived knowledge from watching and listening PBS, wonder from various cultures and environments in documentaries and life from things about the world around her that have shaped her life.

Officials at WJCT said they picked Saunders’ design because it was the best design that was submitted that matched what the station is all about.

“The t-shirt contest was a big part of rebranding with our slogan, ‘Your community. Your world.’ The global theme of her design resonated well with the community,” said Stan Cleiland, vice president of communications for WJCT.

Although Saunders describes herself as a “hobby artist,” she grew up in an artistic family and has been drawing and painting her whole life. She took some art classes while a student at Florida State College at Jacksonville, but when she heard about the contest, she didn’t think she would win.

“Frankly I didn’t think I’d be one of the finalists, let alone win,” Saunders said.

Now Saunders is looking to go back to school to become an art therapist so she can use art to help children who have suffered trauma express themselves through drawing and painting. Saunders said she hopes to work with autistic children.

“I would help the autistic people communicate better with the outside world and help them to relate to people and things better,” Saunders said.

In the spirit of giving back, Saunders is also involved with the St. Augustine-based company, Rulon international, where she paints wooden toy guitar covers that Rulon gives to kids in hospitals. These “cigar box guitars,” according to the Rulon website, are given to children with bags of various stickers and adhesive letters so that a child can personalize their own guitar to their liking.

“I’ve always been good at helping people and I’ve always had an interest in art. And I think [art therapy] combines the two in a way that I think I would be good at,” Saunders said.

She said she wants to help children express their feelings they have experienced due to trauma by drawing pictures that speak to their mental condition. Saunders knows a friend’s father had a stroke and art therapy helped in his recovery.

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