Student combines passion for art with celebration of culture

Rich culture collides with artistic passion as senior Lou Ortega molds a block of clay into her new favorite art piece. Ortega has been creating art since elementary school, but this is the first time she has been able to incorporate her culture into her art. 

“I feel like it’s a really good opportunity because my family is just a little bit disconnected with the culture,” Ortega said. “So being able to connect to a part of my culture that I was really never able to as a child feels really exciting.”

Ortega’s sculpture was displayed at Springdale’s Dia de Los Muertos celebration, along with other art pieces and decorations. The celebration also included an altar dedicated to doctors and health workers who served throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The exhibit is for Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead,” Ortega said. “The celebration is very famous and popular in Mexico. It’s for families to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones that have passed away.”

Ortega worked on this in her ceramics class, and she believes it took her about three weeks to complete.

“The piece that I made was a little skull with a snake biting onto it,” Ortega said. “It’s supposed to be  a clay whistle. I created the skull and snake, but it wasn’t until I was maybe halfway done that I was asked if I could put it in the exhibit.” 

According to Ortega, her love for creating art extends far beyond ceramics. Her favorite medium of art is digital drawing. She creates this type of drawing weekly for the school’s digital newspaper. 

“I use my art mostly for when it’s needed,” Ortega said. “I mostly draw for journalism, and if I’m not, then I’m just mindlessly drawing.” 

Ortega believes her favorite aspect of art is the positive impact it can have on the artist and the world. 

“I like that art is an outlet for expression and like representation as a whole,
Ortega said. “There’s a lot of people that use their art for activism, which is an amazing thing, especially in today’s day and age. I also like that people do it to vent their feelings and stuff.”