Isabella Granados | October 2018

Hometown: East Los Angeles, California

Major: Fine Art

Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education


Q: How did you discover your interest in the arts and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as an artist teacher?

A: Since I was young, I have always been intrigued by how calm I feel when creating art. I was an anxious child and while growing up I didn’t realize how incredibly transformative and healing creative expression can be. The more I practiced painting throughout high school, the more I realized I needed it as an outlet for my own emotions and feelings I have been taught to suppress. Becoming an arts educator felt so necessary to me. I felt like I had to share this beautiful thing with as many people as I could since it helped me in more ways than I can explain.

Q: Describe what the young artists in your VAPAE afterschool arts program are working on and the process they’re using.

A: At Las Fotos Project (LFP), the young women there are focusing on inspirational migrant women in their lives that they would like to highlight via photography. The class is titled, “Esta Soy Yo” and the 3 main focuses of the class is mentorship, photography skills, and self-confidence. MASA at UCLA Community School just began a few days ago so our first class was focused on introductions and warming up to painting. Myself and a fellow teaching artist named Maria taught the class 7 different watercolor techniques they can use in their own artmaking. Everyone made name tags to keep for the rest of the semester so we can get to know each other’s names and begin building our community. 

Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?

A: The young women at LFP are able to use photography as a way of depicting themselves or others in a new light which can be a very empowering experience for them. Along with becoming stronger photographers, they have the agency to write their own compelling narratives and an engaged audience to share them with. I can say that just by teaching one class, I am already able to witness how much the parents and students genuinely value the arts programming they are receiving. I think all of us, the students, parents, and the teachers will be able to grow as individuals and collectively as artists.  

Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?

A:  In high school I took every free art opportunity I could get my hands on. I attended Ryman Arts, after school art classes offered by CalArts, Saturday High at Art Center, CAPSA (Community Arts Partnership Summer of Art) which was summer school for art also taught by CalArts students and professors, art classes at East LA College  and Inner-City Arts where I currently volunteer. This was all on top of the classes I took while enrolled in the visual academy at Ramon C. Cortines High School of VAPA. Looking back, it really prepared me for college in terms of juggling a bunch of different things at once. I was obsessed with becoming a better artist and being taught by a variety of different teachers who all had different approaches to art. It showed me that there was no one way of making art or teaching it.

Q: What do you personally gain as a teaching artist, arts facilitator?

A:  Seeing a student’s face light up when you show them a new way of making art reminds me of how excited I was when I first started out drawing. Also, seeing how proud a student is of something they made really makes me want to make art. Witnessing the different approaches to the creative process is very informative to my own artistic practice.

Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?

A: There is a long list of ways the VAPAE program has benefited me but the one that stands out the most is the sense of community the program fosters. Doing all of the ice-breakers, games, and community building exercises in class truly does work. I can honestly say that I have been vulnerable in every VAPAE class I have taken because I felt comfortable doing so. I definitely cannot say the same for other classes I took as an undergrad.

Q: Are there any anecdotes from your time as a VAPAE Teaching Artist - at an Afterschool Arts/Enrichment Program - that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a breakthrough with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.

A: At Horace Mann Middle School I taught a photography class during the summer with Amanda Sutton. It was tough. A majority of the students had a lot of trouble focusing and being respectful during class. For the last assignment we had the students pick their favorite photo they had taken during the course to be displayed on the last day in our classroom as a gallery. One student named Tyrus was particularly disruptive during every class. He refused to pick a photo to be in the gallery because he didn’t think any were “good enough.” Amanda and I picked one for him, a beautiful portrait of him and his parents. When Tyrus came in and saw it on the wall he yelled (which was very normal for students to do as soon as they entered the class) and attempted to take it down. Amanda and I stopped him of course. Later on in the class I saw him admiring his photo with a smile on his face. That was all I needed to know that he enjoyed at least one thing he had done because of our class. I told him how great his photo was and he smiled and rolled his eyes. That was one of the most positive experiences I had with Tyrus and I was so proud that he was proud even though he wouldn’t admit it. I know this isn’t much but to me it was everything.

Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?

A: After doing travel study in Brazil for August and a bit of September, I have been looking for mostly part-time arts education and public programming jobs in LA. I hope to save up enough money to travel and live in a different country for a year or so. I am interested in arts therapy and socially engaged arts. I hope to go to graduate school someday to study either of those two things or in a related field. I can’t say what I would like to do for the rest of my life because I don’t know! And I am ok with that for now.