Each year, a local, female artist is commissioned to create a piece for the Women with a Cause issue cover that epitomizes the strength and power of the women in our community. This year, artist Nanci Charpentier brought the issue to life through her bold brush strokes and bright style.
As Charpentier reflected on the common threads of the women featured on the previous pages, she envisioned the epitome of a strong woman—one who is tough-minded yet kind and dedicated to giving back.
“My daughter came to mind,” she says. “The women featured are forces of nature. They have passion, sheer will, kindness, resiliency and care for others in all they do, even though they do different things for our community.”
With the help of local photographer Sean Gasser, who captured her daughter and muse, Claire Gallagher, Charpentier began outlining the portrait in her mind, deciding first that the oil painting should highlight everyday strength, resiliency and determination.
Painting in plein air as her tradition, she began with the zinnias that serve as the portrait’s background. The flowers are both a nod to Charpentier’s afternoons spent at the Burden Museum Gardens with the Baton Rouge Plein Air group and the nature of women. “With zinnias, no matter how many times you cut them back, they continue to grow and bloom year after year,” she says.
Her daughter’s direct gaze looks ahead with resolve, unflinching at the work necessary to create the future she sees in her dreams. Meanwhile, according to Charpentier, her stance echoes Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, which depicts the goddess Venus after she has emerged from the sea fully grown, as if to say, “I have arrived.”
Claire, now 25, is newlywed and works as a mechanical engineer in deep space exploration.
“To me, she’s the picture of strength,” Charpentier says. “She’s got a strong work ethic and does what needs to be done to accomplish her goals.”