Artist Ara Cho draws to express

The pristine white walls of the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Art Galleries typically bear a multitude of paintings, photographs, and illustrations whilst sculptures and ceramics are proudly displayed nearby. Talented artists of varying backgrounds, expertise, and ages have their work presented in this art exhibition space. But every year, an especially unique type of artist is featured and celebrated. 

The High School Art Invitational at the CSUN Art Galleries showcases selected work made by students from over thirty high schools in the San Fernando Valley. A myriad of media is displayed in a professional gallery space and this year’s 23rd Annual High School Art Invitational lasted from January 6-18. 

Granada Hills Charter was amongst the high schools represented and art teachers Stefani Thomas and Harvey Cusworth submitted six total works of art, the maximum number of artworks permitted for each school. Junior Ara Cho of Thomas’ Advanced Art class was one of the young artists whose piece was selected. 

“Teachers want to show the best of what’s going on in their program and Ara, in particular, has gotten really good at drawing portraits. She’s put in a lot of work and I’m super proud of her. Her self-portrait is beautiful; I thought it should be shown off,” Thomas said.

Thomas recalls that someone thought the self-portrait was a photograph at first, needing a second, closer look to realize it was not one at all. The art teacher finds that to be the best compliment one could receive for a drawing. 

Cho is a self-taught artist and her Advanced Art course makes it the first time that she officially takes an art class. She grew up drawing in notebooks and sketchbooks, learning through herself and countless hours of practice. Cho had also never drawn a self-portrait prior to the class. This makes her feature at the CSUN Art Galleries that much more impressive.

She was honored to be a part of the High School Art Invitational and loved visiting the gallery with her family over winter break.

“I feel like it’s the best thing to have ever happened to me. It meant a lot to get my art piece featured in an actual exhibit and I’m really grateful for all the support I received in the process,” Cho said.

Cho plans on pursuing art as a career, as she views art as a means by which she can show the creative side of her. And, to put it simply, she just loves it. Cho firmly believes that any success that comes from a future in the arts will stem from her passion for the arts.

“It’s one of the platforms that allows me to express my feelings creatively. When I can’t express my feelings verbally, I express them visually with my art, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I love art and will never stop creating,” Cho said.