Images from the Wipe Your Feet show!

By Ana Lopez, 18
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My photos will deal with thoughts people could be having while doing everyday normal things. You never know what goes on inside another person's head.
Photo by Mando Blanco, 18, Fairfax HS

The thought of even applying to art school is scary when you’re a young person of color from the streets of Los Angeles. Resources and materials are usually not that great, unless you’re in an art magnet school. Art classes are full of students trying to earn required elective credits, so your classmates aren’t there because they actually like art.

Thankfully these students have REACH LA, an afterschool health education and arts program. REACH LA offers an ongoing portfolio workshop, the Youth Arts Collective, that helps youth develop a professional art portfolio. Students create a slide portfolio, which is what art schools require for admission. Slide sheets are expensive to make, and editing them can be a difficult process. REACH LA offers this service for free.

Participants have a chance to get their work reviewed by art colleges, too. This year, REACH LA teamed up with the San Francisco Art Institute to award a scholarship to a talented young photographer in the portfolio workshop.

Having your artwork shown at a major art gallery would be like a dream come true. For the REACH LA Youth Arts Collective, this dream has become a reality.

"I never thought I’d have the chance to put up my photos at this age," says Mando Blanco, 18, from Fairfax High School. The Arts Collective (ages 17-22) received a "Next Generation" Grant from the California Arts Council giving them the chance to show their works at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica.

It all starts with "Wipe Your Feet," an inverted metaphor for cleaning your brain of preconceived ideas when you come to our show. The exhibition will feature a variety of art works: paintings, photography, animation and digital arts. The show will include topics ranging from cyber gay girls on-line, gender bending art, self-identity of a boy paper doll, to the dark side of photography.

The exhibition is put together by youth with the help of project director, Gina Lamb. The curators, myself and Esperanza Barajas, 20, expect this show to be different from any other exhibition. Planning the show has been exciting, as the young artists are deciding on every small detail, from developing the look of the show, press and announcements. All the art pieces that make up this exhibition promise to make you think.