“Before entering the pathway, I didn’t really have an art background,” said Gonzalez. “I tried it out in ninth grade, and decided to continue after the first year. Creating art helps me relax and gather my thoughts. The Visual Arts Pathway gave me a platform to express myself through my art.”
Gonzalez’ expresses her creativity through painting and drawing. She mostly uses charcoal, ebony pencil, and watercolor on canvas or paper. For her AP portfolio, Gonzalez created 24 paintings on canvas; 12 inspired by themes assigned by her teacher and 12 inspired by themes of her own choice. “My overarching theme was “All Things Beautiful” – to take the good in life or things that people take for granted and interpret that on canvas,” Gonzalez explained. “My recurring symbol in this series of artwork is wild flowers. The theme explores the idea that in today’s society everyone is often expected to look or feel the same way, but we are all beautiful in our individual ways.”
Since she has not yet declared a major, she has decided to attend Santa Monica College this fall, because community college is more affordable and provides the perfect opportunity to explore the many degree programs available, while also completing her general education. She then plans to transfer to California State University, Long Beach, or another four-year university in the area. Currently, she wants to explore the fields of business, merchandising and advertising.
As a student who had the opportunity to attend El Segundo schools through an inter-district permit, she said she is grateful she had a chance to get a great education in an outstanding community. “There are an abundance of events and activities, both within the school district and the community,” Gonzalez said. “I was surrounded by people who wanted to do good and succeed in life, and my teachers always pushed me to do well and would take time to encourage me.”
At ESHS, Gonzalez participated in Link Crew, a high school transition program, as both an incoming freshman mentee and in high school as the mentor. Link Crew helped Gonzalez feel more comfortable during her transition from middle to high school and decided to give back as a mentor because she wanted to help others feel that same comfort. In addition to helping her peers, Gonzalez is passionate about taking care of the environment and volunteered as a member of the student chapter of Heal the Bay for two years. “I’m a strong believer in taking care of our environment, especially when it comes to caring for our beaches,” she said. Gonzalez continues to volunteer on her own “because I like to be involved by giving back and contributing to the community.”
Gonzalez’ hard work and eagerness to learn should serve her will in college—she will be the first member of her family to do so. When asked about who has inspired and influenced her most in life so far, Gonzalez said, “My parents; I am so thankful for them; they are always there for me. Family is so important. I dedicate my artwork to my grandfather who passed away recently.”
*Original artwork by Vanessa Gonzalez