Kids Helping Kids
Linda Fritch
Shawnee Outlook Magazine ( August 2012)

LeAnne Henry Wright is more than an artist with paint on her jeans and a growing clientele, she is about connecting with people in the community and one way she does this is through teaching children. 
“The reason I wanted to start working with children,” she said, “is because of my father who made me aware of my abilities, teaching me to work with my hands at an early age. When I was in the fourth grade, I helped him build an ultra light airplane which basically looks like a motorcycle with wings. It was thrilling to be able fly in an airplane I had helped build with my own hands.”
After Wright started teaching kids, she said, “I kept hearing about needs in the community, so I began to see artwork as a way to fulfill those needs and make a difference. I shared it with the kids and they got very excited about it. The results have been inspiring. The people in Shawnee have been very supportive of the project.”
Wright explained that the kids work on their own pieces and then they come together and work on a group painting for their ‘Sips Student Show’ where the group painting is then offered for auction. "In our first year, seven classes, we raised nearly $2,000 for children in need."
All the money is given to a local charity. “I leave it up to the kids. I present them with different charities that directly affect children and they choose the one to receive the money.”
Some of the places sited for their donations are Mission Shawnee, Cargo Ranch and Project Safe.  “The students are so proud,” Wright said, “that they can help kids their own age. It puts a smile on their faces.”  
Wright did not start out to be an artist but entered college on a track scholarship. After dislocating her hip the first year she was offered a full art scholarship that exceeded the track scholarship. She quickly realized this was something she enjoyed doing and it set her feet on the journey to her destiny.
Later she transferred to Oklahoma State University and continued working on her art and received a paid internship to work in New York. “It was there,” she said, “that I was privileged to observe the great artists, and work hand in hand with James Rosenquist.”
About her type of art, Wright said, “I paint mostly abstract mixed media dealing with horses and the female figure as my primary subjects. The body language of each gives several options for portraying emotion. This is the way I deal with my own experiences. It all goes into my work.”

Family comes first with Wright who is married with two young boys. Along with her paintings, she is currently working with her father, Stephen Henry Sr. of Henry Saw Log, designing furniture. “There are no words to describe what it means for me to work with my dad. I design and sell and dad brings the ideas to life. I want my boys to learn what my dad taught me, to work with their hands to create beautiful things.”
Her goals are to show her work in Dallas and Santa Fe and other large cities. “I hope to expand my reach so I have better means to show the world what I'm doing with my dad," she said.
As much as she loves designing furniture and teaching, painting is still her passion. “All my ideas seem to come in the middle of the night,” she said. “I like to work in a series; for instance, the horse series. Each one represents six people who played significant roles in influencing my life and work since moving from Oklahoma City to Shawnee.”
Wright does not see her move from the Paseo Arts Distict to Shawnee as a backward step.  “Actually it is quite amazing,” she said, “I’ve produced and sold more art in one year since moving to Shawnee than 10 years before.
“I come to realize I can be an artist wherever I am. I am determined to be what I am here and to establish a local art scene with the kids. They come to me. I don’t advertise. It’s just all word of mouth. And now I have a waiting list. I love working with them and seeing their talents develop.”
Wright will be showing a new series of paintings at the Plaza District Arts Festival in OKC September 29th, along with the furniture designs she does with her father.
Her work can be viewed on her webpage or on her Facebook page 'Art by LeAnne Henry Wright'.

Behind the posse.
Behind the scenes.
My posse.

Shawnee News-Star April 2, 2012

By Kory B. Oswald
There is a proverb that says something like “be the tea, not the egg, or the noodle.”

When an egg is placed in a fresh boiling pot of water, it hardens and lets nothing in. When a noodle is placed in boiling water, it becomes limp and bends to the will of its surroundings. However, when tea is placed in a fresh pot of boiling water, the tea does not change; it percolates and changes the entire contents of the pot.

After moving to Shawnee about a year ago, local artist LeAnne Henry Wright has made a conscious successful effort to be the tea and bring a positive change to the contents of the community through her artwork and the art education she provides Shawnee residents.

“This is where I’m going to live and ... I want it to be the place where I want my kids to grow up, and I want there to be art,” Wright said.

Since last October, Wright has taught the power and technique of art to children in Shawnee. Instead of just crayons and markers, Wright provides, canvas, mixed mediums with water and oil based paints, as well as an introduction into the philosophies and techniques of famous artist from the past; like Jackson Pollock. This teaches a valuable lesson: they are not restricted to paint, brushes, or any traditional objects to create art, Wright said.

“They can use anything they have, the whole mixed-media and using what’s available. It makes them feel capable, with their hands in front of them they can use what they have,” Wright said.

The classes — originally for kids ages 4 to 10 — also teach the power of making a difference in the lives of others and the community. After each session, the students sell their at a show at Sips Downtown Kafé, and donate the proceeds to a local charity. So far the classes have raised about $1,100 for local nonpro fit groups. Last months art work raised $400 for Project SAFE, which aides victoms of domestic violence, Wright said.

“To be involved with the community, I’ve been shocked with how quickly
and precisely the kids get that, so they understand what these group paintings are going to,” Wright said. “It works because the kids discover their ability to give, learn self control and build confidence.”

Faith Buss’ 4-year-old son, Miles, has been participating in the art classes since they started, and agrees with Wright. Her son has already grasped the idea of donating and helping others in the community.

“It’s definitely opened his eyes to where its not such a self-centered world anymore,” Buss said.

The art classes have also made Miles much more aware of aesthetic stimulation, design, and his own ability to use art to entertain himself.

“He’s just more aware of color and shape and design,” Buss said. “Now all I have to do is give him markers and colors ... and he’s entertained for ... probably 30 or 40 minutes without me hearing a word from him ... it’s pretty incredible.”

Wright’s classes are booked into the fall, and she has a waiting list for those classes. She also holds private lessons for kids 4 to 18-year-olds, but minimizes those to two a month. She also plans to hold summer camps at the end of June and July.

This Sunday Wright will have her own art show at Sips Kafe. The show is titled
Forward Motion,” which could be an expression of what Wright has created in the art world since moving to Shawnee, but it is also serves as a reminder that she is not done changing the water around her. In the end, Wright’s effort and energy could boil over and bring attention to other artists in the community. Her show will bring other artists and connoisseurs into town from across the state, and even some from out of state, she said.

“I am trying to raise more awareness for Shawnee. I’m trying to get it all moving, because this is where I live,” she said. “I’m trying to create the life that I want right where I am. We’re trying to get it going.”

Wright is also participating in the Mabee-Gerrer Museum Arts Trek 2012,
and will also involved in the First Friday arts and entertainment event in Shawnee on May 4. Wright is also working on collecting scholarship from local organizations to help local artists set up booths at the First Friday event as well. Wright sold all of her art work at her last show in Oklahoma City in two hours.

Her next art show in Shawnee will feature 8 original works of art and will start at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 1 at Sips Downtown Kafé, 114 E. Main St. Wright’s work will be available for viewing at Sips until April 20.

 Photoshoot by Suzanna Bates


Shawnee News-Star October 7, 2011

By Kory B. Oswald

Put away the crayons, pick a palette and learn how art can empower an individual as well as a community. That is what artist LeAnne Henry Wright has planned for her students.

Wright gives private lessons to 10 children ages 4 to 10. The lessons are broken up into two classes of 4 to 6-year-olds and 7 to 10-year-olds that meet for an hour once a week. Wright keeps the class size small, five in each class, which allows for a more personal lesson, she said.

“Kids are capable of learning anything you have the patience to teach them,” Wright said. “I’m teaching them straight technique of what I’m doing right now.”

During the month-long classes, her students will collaborate on one painting and will have a show at the end of the month. This month the show will be at Sips Kafe at 6 p.m. Oct. 28. The show is open to the public and the artwork will be on display for a week.

“The whole four weeks they’re thinking about their show. It will be a formal exhibit and they’ll get to dress up and invite their family and it will be the real deal,” Wright said.

Every month the proceeds from the students’ art will go toward a local non-profit group. This month the money will be donated to Cargo Ranch, a faith-based organization that helps at-risk youth.

Donating the money will complete the lesson of empowerment through art for the students, Wright said.

“They’re young and you get to show them ... that something they can do right now can make such a dramatic effect and benefit to their community. It’s powerful and I don’t think you can put a price on that,” she said.

Wright is a Shawnee transplant and once taught art to kindergarten through eighth-grade students at a private school.
This is her first time giving private lessons.

“Sometimes public schools don’t have the funding and ... art class ends up being just a piece of copy paper and a number two pencil and that’s it,” Wright said. “Doing the lessons helps my brain relax in between doing my own work,”

Wright previously worked in New York and has her own art show at Medium Studio and Gallery in Oklahoma City next month.

She plans to expand her studio and class space at 116 N. Broadway into a gallery and help expand the art scene in Shawnee.

Parents can enroll their children and pay online at