By: Hunter Flores, former youth participant

Hi, LAYC! I’m Hunter, a former youth participant and LAYC AmeriCorps member. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to profile one of our young Latinx artists at LAYC. Please enjoy this interview with Jackie Ruiz, age 17.

How did you first find LAYC?
I first started here as a summer youth from Bell High School, that’s how I found out about the Latin American Youth Center. Now I just do community hours and paint things, like the bright pink unicorn and neon yellow rainboots displayed on the first floor of LAYC, in the main hallway. I feel really connected to Claudia Diaz, who works in the Teen Center. She feels like home; she’s like an older sister to me.

What does Latinx identity mean to you?
I’m from the United States, but my family is from El Salvador. Being Latina has been both negative and positive for me; you can get criticism from people who are racist, but you get to experience your own culture, try food from your home country, and travel to places you’ve never been before.

What inspires you to make art? What kinds of art do you make?
I’m not sure, mostly nature…seeing stuff, different objects in the streets. Sometimes I see something crumpled up, like paper, and I see a face in it and I want to draw it. I see things a little deeper than most. My main message through art is that street art isn’t a bad thing–I mean, vandalism could be a bad thing, but art on the streets isn’t necessarily vandalism.

Where can we find your art? Do you have plans for your future work?
I mainly showcase my art at LAYC. Sometimes I think I want to be an art therapist, other times I think I just want to make art and display it. I don’t want to sell my art; I don’t want it to become too commercial, but I want people to see it.

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