As her paint knife ran through the smooth pigment and across the wood panel for the last time, senior Maria Mendoza Blanco stepped back to admire her painting “Ganyemede,” one of thirty student works selected for gallery display over 970 others.
Marymount University, a Catholic university in Arlington, held their “Visions” exhibition from November 8 to December 7. It featured artwork from high school students in Northern Virginia across several school districts.
“My art teacher actually put [the submission] on his Google Classroom,” Mendoza Blanco said. “He said it was a cool opportunity, and a nice thing to put on your college resume, that your art has been shown in an actual show.”
While Blanco has been doodling since she could hold a pencil, she said she found a real passion for art in the seventh grade. She said her love for art came slowly over time.
“I feel like a lot of people are like, ‘from the beginning I held a crayon and I knew I was gonna be an artist,’ but I was like, ‘I don’t know about this,’” Mendoza Blanco said. “I tried a bunch of other things: I did ballet for a while and played viola for a while.”
Her involvement in the art world began with her drawings, but she has since discovered more complex modes of artistic expression and currently works mainly with acrylic and oil paints.
Mendoza Blanco said proactivity about self-promotion and having a presence is important to being an artist.
“It’s weird being an art person,” Mendoza Blanco said. “If you do sports, you go out and compete in meets. If you do band, you perform in front of people, but with art you have to constantly be putting yourself out there and kind of making your own thing as you go. You have to always be looking for places where you can show your art or potentially sell it.”
Mendoza Blanco’s mother is an architect and her father works in IT. She said the rest of her family comes from a more science and math oriented, technical background, and said it was funny she had more of an interest in art.
“My mom always had blueprints around the house,” Mendoza Blanco said. “I was always fascinated at how she always had those tiny little details down perfectly. There was something about the fact that somebody had made that. When I was growing up, we didn’t have access to digital programs so she had to do everything by hand, so I really liked that.”
Mendoza Blanco is currently in the process of applying to various art schools and said she wishes to continue art for the rest of her life; however, she said fully developing as an artist will take time.
“I’m still really young, so it’s hard to say ‘I have a style,’” Mendoza Blanco said. “I’m trying to explore and paint what I like, so hopefully that’ll solidify into something more unified, but right now I’m just having fun.”