In praise of student art programs

Downey is known as the home of the oldest-operating McDonald’s and the Apollo space mission, but what it should be known for is the city’s new generation of talented young artists. Although a cliché, the saying “the kids are the future” still holds very true and is profound in many aspects. Today, the younger generations are often described as robotic, lazy adolescents that have steered off the path that their parents expected; however, I believe that we are quite the opposite. We are the generation bubbling with creativity and when given a canvas to draw on, we will draw.

This past month, Stay Gallery introduced a brand new initiative called “Stay Young.” Their purpose: to promote the involvement of younger generations in the arts. The result: a myriad of imaginative talent that consumed the art gallery, attracting both young and old, and creating the art scene that Downey should gain recognition for.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of an awesome staff of like-minded individuals whose main goal was to spread awareness throughout the city of Downey, emphasizing the importance of youth talent. We were the ones that made sure that all talent was put to use. For the past month, a committee from Downey High ASB and I collaborated with Stay Gallery to host  a “Festival of the Arts,” a gala showcasing the talent that students from Downey and Warren High Schools inhibit.

Why did I do it? Downey is not known for its art scene nor artistic talent.  Some people do not even know it has an art gallery! However, people should know that Downey is home to numerous Pablo Picassos, Ansel Adamses, and Louis Armstrongs. They are my friends, acquaintances, and sometimes rivals – yes, there are a ton of talented artists from Warren High School too – who could draw better than they could conversate. But that’s exactly why I did it. We as a young generation are usually put on the backburner relative to other priorities; however, giving us an outlet to express ourselves can  foster our sense of community and belonging in this bustling city.

Statistics show that the more involved a student is, the more likely they are to succeed in their studies. Events like the Festival of the Arts inspires young generations to be more active in the community. A few years back when the recession began affecting schools, many art programs were removed, limiting student involvement. However, this art movement developed as a supplement and has continued supporting the arts despite the economy.

By giving us students a place to do what we love (draw, paint, sing, etc.), we can gain a sense of empowerment. We can become a revolutionary generation capable of changing the world. We can find our place in our community and give back to it in whichever way we can.

It has been a blessing to partake in the “Stay Young” movement because of the opportunity it gives us to be heard and acknowledged. Stay Gallery offers a space for future generation of artists to express themselves. Every stroke of the paintbrush, every muscle used to form the ceramic mold, and every picture snapped is done with a passion that portray the artist’s emotions.  Being a part of this huge initiative has been great. The countless hours and meetings needed to organize, prepare, and execute the event was worth it in the end.

The city of Downey has made huge strides in attempting to involve youth that are capable of making a difference.  Art is one way we do it. Whether it be performing in front of an audience or displaying artwork, we are the generation that will turn heads, one brushstroke at a time.

Marjan Abubo is a member of Downey High’s class of 2014. He was ASB vice president.



Published: June 19, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 10