By Kate Mabry
A Houma student is using her artistic talent to benefit an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee and hopes to continue her charity work with additional organizations.
While studying art at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma in the spring, Anna Dupre, 15, was assigned to complete a grid drawing. The soon-to-be junior said she has always loved animals and selected a photo of a pair of elephants.
Upon beginning her drawing, Dupre decided to use her art to serve a cause.
“I wanted to draw an animal for my art class, and I came across this image,” she said. “After working on it, I thought I could do something more with this project than just for school-related purposes. If the piece turned out well enough, I wanted to do something to better the (animal) community.”
After careful consideration of several charities, Dupre chose to sell reproduction prints of her drawing and donate the proceeds to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.
As the largest natural habitat refuge for elephants in the country, The Elephant Sanctuary provides asylum for “old, sick or needy elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses,” according to the sanctuary’s website.
Laurie Robichaux, head of Vandebilt’s art department, said she is proud to have Dupre as one of her students.
“She is an extremely talented young woman and is using her talent to raise awareness and funds for a cause,” Robichaux said.
The sanctuary, founded in 1995, is a nonprofit organization licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Although it is not open to the public, the sanctuary’s website offers Elecams, or a system of cameras placed throughout the sanctuary to monitor the elephants throughout the 2,700-acre perimeter. Online users can watch the elephants in their environment.
Dupre said she originally considered donating toward a foreign elephant refuge, but she and her mother, Heidi, stumbled upon the sanctuary in Tennessee.
“She mentioned trying to find a charity in Africa, and I suggested donating closer to home,” Heidi said. Heidi said the family gathered in the living room while Anna was working on the drawing, and as Heidi was on the computer, a promotion for the elephant sanctuary appeared on the screen.
Heidi described the coincidence as a sign that this was the perfect location to support.
Anna said she used her Facebook page and Instagram account to spread the word about her prints.
The reproductive prints come in three sizes — a 9-inch by 12-inch print for $45, a 12-inch by 16-inch print for $65 and an 18-inch by 24-inch print for $85.
For information or to make an order, visit artworksby
As of Friday, Anna received five orders, which allowed her to exceed her goal of $100 after shipping and printing costs.
Anna is working on other drawings as well.
Heidi recently commissioned Anna to complete a drawing of a pelican, which would be used to create prints for Christmas cards.
The mother and daughter also plan to donate a reproduction print to The Haven in Houma that provides shelter, counseling and support to domestic and sexual violence victims.
The print will auctioned off in the silent auction during the organization’s spring gala.
“If it turns out well, I plan to do something similar for wildlife preservation,” Anna added.