Student artist breaks down barriers, tackles world issues

By Soleil Cardenas

Mental health and world issues are some of topics student Angelica Viramontes tackles in her artwork.

Viramontes is an East Los Angeles College student who has worked at the Vincent Price Art Museum for the past year. 

She is a studio arts major but is focusing on education and museum-oriented studies.

Viramontes has her art featured at the student focused “New Voices” exhibit. The exhibit features art works done with different media such as oil paintings, drawings, visual recordings, sculptures and more. 

Artists in the exhibit were entered in a competition in which two different types of awards were given out.

The first award was judged by a panel of jurors, with jurors picking first through fourth place.The second type of award was a museum staff art pick. 

Viramontes received a certificate of recognition as the museum staff picked  her art piece titled “The Universal World.”

Viramontes piece is a comic strip made up of mixed media.

 “For this piece we were challenged in my class to use different material. I thought it would be cool to kind of make a comic where you could actually feel the textures. Kind of like in those kids books where they are super sensory involved,” Viramontes said.

Viramontes attended the exhibits opening night, Nov. 5, where she received her award.

 She described opening night as intense, the VPAM was packed. 

“Even if you didn’t receive an award, students are just happy to get recognition for their work and the chance to have your art in a museum space,” Viramontes said.

 Viramontes has had the opportunity to have her artwork featured in four different exhibits at VPAM. 

Opening night, Viramontes was asked if her work was an art piece or a comic, but her piece wasn’t one or the other, it was both.

 “Comics are art as well and deserve to be in an art space,” Viramontes said.

Viramontes found her love for art as a kid. 

During her childhood, she enjoyed illustrated books, animated movies and comics. Her art has been greatly influenced by Bryan Lee O’Malley the creator of the “Scott Pilgrim” comics.

In her comic strip, “The Universal World,” Mother Earth breaks the planet into pieces out of frustration. Afterwards, she realizes she reacted in a very human way and instantly tries to fix what has been done. 

Mother Earth’s frustration stems from all the violence on Earth and damage being done to Earth by humans.

 “It all has to do with the idea of mother earth just being so upset about these things happening such as wars, violence and global warming,” Viramontes said. 

The comic strip features the main character Elana and highlights her struggles after the Earth splits into pieces. 

Elana struggles with her mental health after losing her parents in the commotion.

“I wanted to tackle mental health and little aspects that are personal to me, and, I think, that are personal to any young person out there,” Viramontes said. 

Viramontes has struggled with her mental health and known others who have struggled as well. She wants her art to make an emotional connection to the viewer. 

“This is emotional, this is something real and human. You’re not alone in this space,” Viramontes said.

 As a teacher’s assistant at ELAC, Viramontes has noticed that so many students get caught up with the idea of their art being perfect.

“Art should be accessible to everyone. Especially younger kids. I know there is a challenge when schools don’t have access to art. Art is powerful, and teaching kids that their art doesn’t have to be perfect is important,” Viramontes said.

Viramontes has been deeply involved in the art community at ELAC and has been mentored by Professors Christine Frerichs, Linda Kallan, Jim Uyekawa, Robert Acuna and Chris Turk.

She plans to continue working on “The Universal World” comic strip. Viramontes said comic strips do not always get credit in the art world, but slowly but surely comics are getting the recognition deserved. 

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