Colorful Imaginations

By Sebin Jeon

Motivated and driven by her love for students, Mrs. Carol Barnes, or better known as "Ms. Purple," is the heart of the visual arts program at George Watts Montessori Magnet School. Her charismatic personality captivates the attention of her young learners, who are able to cultivate creative skills and perspectives throughout their Watts journey. She teaches each class in a three-week rotation, and her dedication to students is evident in the positive relationships they build over the years. And while she illustrates with all colors of the rainbow, she has a special story for the color purple, which has painted her a unique identity in the Durham Public Schools community.

Although I initially started documenting this project in hopes of capturing Mrs. Barnes' passion for art and teaching, I had the privilege in learning much more. As we shared deeper conversations, Mrs. Barnes revealed her history as an educator, activist, and purple enthusiast. It became increasingly clear to me that her sincere drive for teaching makes an extraordinary impact on her students, who are encouraged to become independent thinkers and collaborative companions. Her ability to connect with students is ultimately the foundation for lasting friendships and exemplary artwork.