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Today's Christian, July/August 2004

Akiane Kramarik: Dream Child
This 10-year-old prodigy, who says God shows her what to paint, is using her gift to help the needy.
By Mary Berryhill

Akiane Kramarik

Akiane Kramarik is a young prodigy from Sandpoint, Idaho, who has been drawing and painting lifelike artwork since she was 4. Akiane (pronounced ah-KEE-ah-nah) says she first met God when she was 3. And now she's hoping to use her amazing gift to help feed needy children around the world.

When young Akiane's special gift was discovered, not much time passed before the humble 10-year-old was featured on Oprah, CNN, and other national media programs. Akiane began working in pastels when she was 5, and completed her first painting at 7. The self-portrait she painted sold for $10,000.

"It wasn't just art that was happening. Simultaneous with art was a spiritual awakening," says Akiane's mother, Forelli Kramarik. "It all began to happen when she started to share her dreams and visions."Prior to that time, Forelli had been raised as an unbeliever, in an atheistic family from Lithuania."And my husband was a former Catholic and did not share in the family beliefs. We didn't pray together, there was no discussion about God, and we didn't go to church. Then all of a sudden, Akiane was starting to talk about God."

Forelli's young daughter was homeschooled, she had no babysitters, and the family watched no television."We were with the kids all the time, and so these words from Akiane about God didn't come from the outside—we knew that. But there suddenly were intense conversations about God's love, His place [in our lives], and she would describe everything in detail."

In the beginning, Akiane drew pictures of family members and pets, but her interests eventually shifted to the creation of faces. She started "scribbling" more and more faces. She tries to recreate visions that she says God gives her in her dreams.

"I wake up after I have had many dreams. I wake up and I pray, and then I see visions and I explain all those to my mom, and I say, 'This is what I want to paint.' And my mom says, 'I'll give you a canvass so you can paint it.'"From her dreams Akiane began to compose what she calls the "Jesus" paintings, which took her more than 75 hours to complete. She has so far painted two oils of Jesus. She calls the first one "The Prince of Peace," and the second is titled "Forgive Them, Father."

"I always think about Jesus and talk about Him," she says. "I was looking for a [Jesus] model for a long, long time, and when I couldn't find anyone, one day I suggested to my family to pray all day for this model so God would send the right one." The day that they prayed, a very tall carpenter—yes, a carpenter—came to their door looking for work. When he showed up, Akiane nearly fainted. "I told my mother that that was him. I want him to be my model," she recalls.

The carpenter agreed to it at first, but he called a week later to back out.

Akiane Kramarik

"He said that he wasn't worthy to represent his Master," Akiane says. "He's a Christian, and he's a humble person. But I prayed that God would change his mind and that he would call back." And the mysterious carpenter, who wished to remain anonymous, did call Akiane back, saying that God wanted him to pose for the painting, although he felt it was unusual.

Akiane took pictures, studied his face, made sketches, used her imagination and photo references, and the result was the "Prince of Peace."

Akiane's day is a little different from other children her age who are homeschooled. When she wakes each morning she has a drink of water, exercises, prays, and then she paints.

"And after I paint, I write poetry," Akiane adds. "And I write Russian, and then I write and read Lithuanian, after which I read the Bible."

When asked how she knows that it's God who is speaking to her, she replies, "Because I can hear His voice. His voice is quiet and beautiful." Although she was 3 at the time, she'll always remember God's first message to her. "He said, 'You have to do this, and I'll help you.' He said, 'Now you can help people.' I said, 'Yes, I will.' But I said it in different words in my mind. I speak through my mind to Him."

Akiane also has another dream that she believes God has given her—only this one is one that she dreams during her waking hours."I really want to help needy people in Africa and other places," she says. "Especially the Lithuanian people—the 'garbage children' is what they are called. They live in the garbage, and 2- and 3-year-olds are being killed for the first place in the food line," she says. "Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world. They need help with food and medicine, and a free hospital. I really want to build a free hospital for them."

Akiane hopes to fund such projects with the sale of her paintings and poetry. According to her agent, Akiane soon will embark on a world tour to raise money for the African AIDS crisis.

"We don't have an answer as to why this is happening. We don't have a clue," Forelli Kramarik says about her daughter's unfolding ministry. "We're just thankful to God."

But Akiane does seem to have an answer. When her mother asks her why she thinks she received her gift, the 10-year-old replies: "I have been blessed by God. And if I'm blessed, there is one reason and one reason only, and that is to help others."

Editor's Note: To learn more about Akiane's art, go to www.artakiane.com.

Mary Berryhill is a staff writer for the Bonner County Daily Bee in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Copyright © 2004 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine.
Click here for reprint information.

July/August 2004, Vol. 42, No. 4, Page 24



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