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The balance of light and dark

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There’s something inside everyone, a feeling, a dread, a memory that we never want to have to look directly at. It’s called our dark side, and when we stuff it way down inside us, it shows itself by making us act like jerks.

Some people dig deep within themselves to face those hidden opportunities. They become remarkably courageous because of it. Jeorganna Simoes is one of those courageous people.

“Some people are afraid to show themselves,” she said, “because if you show yourself, you feel judged. That’s a hard thing for most people. I was fortunate because I was the child of a politician. My dad was a city councilman. At a very young age, I learned that people will be nice to you when they want something. Power is nice, but it does corrupt. With most things in life, there is that hard line, but we all have both sides. At my age, I’m not afraid to show both sides.”

Simoes has explored her darkest feelings, in large part, with her art.

“I’ve drawn since I was a little girl,” she said. “What I get out of it is, I have emotions stuffed down deep inside me and this is a way to express them. I wanted a way for people who see my art to get their stuffed emotions out. I think the world would be better if we put a mirror up to the dark side, rather than just sweeping it under the rug and being polite. More things would get accomplished.

“It’s nice to have the good and the bright. I have a lot of faith and hope for humanity, but if you don’t know a problem, then you can’t solve a problem. So if you have a painful emotion when you look at one of my pictures, you have two options. You can escape it or you can identify it and work on it. I’m hoping people will do the latter.”

Along with her visual arts passion, Simoes has been active in Roswell’s theater community for years.

“I’ve worked with every theater company in Roswell,” she said. “It’s a group effort, like sports. What I get out of painting is that it’s my direction, my thoughts. Happily, I’m going in a new direction in a few months. I’m directing my first play. I have a vision. I’m not sure if it will get completed the way I envision. Hopefully, it’ll be a learning experience that I can get something out of and the other people will, too. If I like directing, I’ll try it again. If I don’t like it, I won’t.”

Simoes is never afraid to say she’s taking a new direction. It’s how she was raised.

“People often think that if you do something, you have to take the next step and go bigger with it,” she said. “If I don’t like something, it’s fine not to do it again. One of the questions I see on Facebook is, ‘What foods did your parents make you eat when you were little?’ My parents didn’t make me eat anything. I had to taste it, and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to eat it. That’s how I live life.”

One thing she’s never felt the need to walk away from is her love of horror stories.

“My favorite genre is horror,” Simoes said. “I’ve loved horror since I was a child. I absolutely adore it and I always have. The darker the better. I like special effects. I’m OK with CGI, but I’m a big fan of older movies. I’m a follower of Lon Chaney Senior’s work.

“I’ve had people ask how I could like those kinds of movies and books. But horror doesn’t scare me at all. What scares me is the real world. Humanity has gone through so much. I would hope we’ve progressed a little bit toward understanding each other.”

She treats everybody with dignity and respect, not because of what they might think of her, but because of how she wants to feel about herself.

“I learned very young how to put on a happy face,” Simoes said. “When someone says they can’t act, I don’t believe them. We all act. When we go out into the world, we put on our public face and we act.

“My favorite saying is Alexander Pope’s ‘Hope Springs Eternal.’ I do have hope, but I have also lived through some horrific times, and nobody’s going to break my boundaries. When you’ve had a lot of pain in your life, and you’ve faced it, you don’t want to give other people pain.”

The one thing she has no tolerance for is abuse of the vulnerable.

“What bothers me is someone yelling at an animal or at a child,” Simoes said. “My son was playing baseball when we lived in California. There was a guy railing at his kid because they’d lost. I confronted him and told him to leave the kid alone. My husband at the time told me, ‘You can’t do that. That’s his kid.’ I said, ‘Somebody had to stop him — nobody should ever do that to a kid.’”

Another famous saying she lives by is ‘To thine own self be true.’

“Listen to your heart,” she said, “and do what you believe regardless of what anybody tells you. That’s how I’ve tried to live my adult life.”

Simoes will be creating art, reaching out to those who need to express their deepest feelings, and encouraging people to express themselves for as long as she is able. Roswell is a better place for it.