Alejandra is a very passionate young lady who grew up in Guatemala with her family, greatly influenced by her great-grandmother who created ceramics. She remembers being surrounded by lots of family, colorful markets, and cultural activities. At the age of nine, her family moved to Inglewood, California, where she took to painting pictures of the surroundings in order to express her sadness of being away from the happy, colorful life she once lived. At that tender age, luckily she was noticed by an art instructor from Garfield School, as she painted her visions near the streets among the rough L.A. neighborhood gangs.

She remembers the wise words of a migrant farm worker in Oxnard, California. Maria–a mother of five, hard working with strong, tanned hands–offers this thought for Alejandra to consider as she grows up in America: “La familia, tradiciones, liberatael, y fugrza es El espiritu del trabajador, de una Latina”  Translated in English, “Family traditions and liberty are the force and the spirit of the Latina worker.”  This woman had quite an impact on how Alejandra views her life, culture, and incorporates the essence of that message in her art.

Alejandra’s family moved to Oregon when she was twelve years old when she finally learned to speak and write English. Under the wings of a wonderful instructor at Beaverton Sunset High, she has received encouragement and support to continue studying the field of art. Before her grandmother died in Guatemala three years ago, she encouraged Alejandra to get a college education and to remain in the arts so she can be the voice for “the people who live in the shadows.”  During high school, she worked two part-time jobs to help support her family and save up for a college education.

Her mother would like her to pursue a law degree, so she discourages Alejandra from painting in her home. This, however, does not stop her from pursuing her art–she goes out into the public to paint her visions and shares with those curious to see what she is doing. She paints in restaurants, parks, wherever she happens to be. In fact, she acquired part-time jobs because she was painting in public places, one being a restaurant.

Her message to the Beaverton Arts Foundation and the Beaverton Arts Commission is this: “Thank you so much for recognizing my art, for offering this scholarship to me and supporting the arts in the community. Your scholarship has given me a jump start in building up a college fund. Art is my only way to communicate and express bottled up feelings as I face difficult times in my life.”

We urge Alejandra to keep in touch through the years as she progresses in her education and career. She plans to attend Portland Community College and is applying for scholarships to help cover the costs, and expects to work during her college years. She hopes to experiment more with her art, create visuals such as “good graffiti” — and to express to the public the sense of heart and soul of the community.

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