By Corina Denny
Community Engagement Coordinator
Winton Woods City Schools
Forest Park—A talented artist and Winton Woods High School sophomore, Aarianna Bess is sparking change with three pieces she submitted for the 2021 Artwork for Equity Campaign Artist competition.
It all started during the summer of 2021, when she wanted to take art more seriously and joined the Artworks summer program. Although she had been drawing most of her life, she began creating different mediums and sharing them on an art account she created on Instagram. Most of her pieces are done with her favorite utensils to use: the classic pen, pencil, and paint.
During the program, she heard about the Artwork for Equity competition themed “miseducation” that was looking for youth to broadcast their stories. “I liked that they were looking for people like me,” said Bess. “People of color, who were my age and willing to share their honest experiences through art.”
The task was to create original pieces in the form of posters promoting inclusion, equity, and liberation to bring about educational justice.
Bess created three pieces through Adobe Fresco titled, “If the Shoe Fits,” “What About Us?” and “Miseducation.” In her art piece, “If the Shoe Fits.’’ there is one big foot and one small foot trying to fit into the same size shoe to show that just because something is equal, it does not mean it will help everyone.
“Also, there are areas where there is enough for some people and not enough for others,” said Bess. She spoke about her friend who is disabled. “What is good enough for everyone around may not be good enough for her. If I wasn’t looking closely and paying attention, I wouldn’t have noticed that.”
When the COVID protocol is lifted, she will participate in a 3-week program that will allow young artists to participate in art workshops and discussions, and she will receive a $500 stipend, CRXLAB (Creative Reaction Lab), a poster of her selected artwork, and the opportunity for her work to be displayed in a virtual exhibit.
As a gift, her mom framed her artwork. “It was really touching. I would like to thank my mom for always being so supportive.”
Aarianna said she’s looking forward to meeting other participants and seeing her artwork as a poster. During the process, she was and has been inspired by people of color who have been speaking out for issues that should affect everyone.
Through this project, she said she felt like her voice was heard. “I’m glad I can share my voice through my art.”