Student art exhibition is a special feature for Dia de los Muertos – The Downey Patriot

Charlotte Berhow, a fourth grader at Lewis Elementary School, explains that she is thrilled to participate as her grandmother is celebrating the holiday. Charlotte’s project is an image of a calaveras (skull) on canvas using a variety of media.

“My grandmother decorates her house and we light candles to remember the deceased,” says Charlotte. “We eat the food they liked.” Some of her relatives loved ice cream and Doctor Pepper, she adds.

Seventh-year Sussman, Jocelyn Rodriguez is exhibiting La Soledad de la Noche, a work she says was inspired by her research and “Mexican dresses and Mexican culture and how colorful it is.”

Jocelyn says her creative process hasn’t been completely smooth. “At first I was nervous because when I started painting I didn’t really like how it started, but I figured I just had to trust the process and finish it.”

His persistence paid off. “Once I finished the painting,” she says, “I was really happy and delighted to be able to have this opportunity.

Jocelyn’s mother, Brenda, said, “We really enjoy the Downey Festival as a family so it’s kind of a tradition for us. They have been present for three years, except for his absence due to the COVID pandemic.

Eloisa Ball was so impressed with the work of Warren Sr. Gizzel Anaya that one of Anaya’s pieces will be included in the Art Exhibition (“Ofrendas”) inside the Downey Theater.

Anaya says she is self-taught, but still has “a passion for drawing and art in general”. After graduation, she plans to study psychology and child development.

“I hope to integrate art into this career as a child therapist,” says Anaya, “allowing children to express themselves through art.”

Columbus High will be well represented at the festival with 25 students presenting their ceramic work.

“I’m so proud of my students,” says art teacher Jennifer LaMar, who teaches five classes a day.

LaMar felt that the opportunity for students to exhibit their work at an event with such visibility was a good antidote to the “collective trauma” of the COVID pandemic with its isolation and Zoom classes.

“You could see their faces light up when I told them about this opportunity,” she reports. “They asked me, ‘You mean I could be in an art show? Like, am I good enough? I told them, ‘Absolutely, you’re pretty good.’ ”

LaMar thinks there is often an unfair image of Columbus students because they attend a complementary school. “They are good kids,” she says.

Senior Tzuri Perez, who plans to study nursing after high school, says participating in the festival “is a good experience mainly because you create a memory that you have never unlocked before.”

The exhibition of his works “is a good opportunity,” agrees Salvador Hernandez, who plans to start his own vintage clothing business, “especially after the pandemic to show that we are worth something here in Columbus”.

La Mar students will exhibit clay calaveras (skulls) that have been fired and painted to reflect the theme of Dia de los Muertos. LaMar’s teaching schedule dovetailed with the Fall Festival.


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Reggie S. Williams

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