Ixchel Alvarado-Osuna, 2016 Cover Contest Winner

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Ixchel Alvarado-Osuna is a 19-year-old freshman at Santa Ana College in Orange County, Calif.

She is the youngest in a family of artists and grew up watching her three older brothers create art. Being surrounded by art, she has been inspired to create short stories, drawings and paintings over the years.

For Alvarado-Osuna, art is therapeutic for the mind and soul.

“I am able to express my inner thoughts, feelings and emotions on canvas, which is why I will always engage in the arts,” she said. “It is mesmerizing to me that a painting can indeed speak a thousand words.”

Alvarado-Osuna said she does not dream of a future in art. Rather, she visualizes her future in art – which is a distinct difference in terms of attitude.

“I have clear visions of me being happy for what I love doing,” she said. “I first heard the quote, ‘EARTH without ART, is just ‘EH’,’ from Nancy Pink, my art teacher in high school. It has motivated me before and it still has to this day to pursue art.”

She also envisions herself as making an impact in art culture.

“As an upcoming artist, I would like to exhibit something that has substance and brings out a meaningful message that will make people trance positively in thought,” Alvarado-Osuna said.

Inspiration for Alvarado-Osuna’s artwork “Mis Valores de la Vida,” featured on the cover of Creative Outlook, came from a mandala assignment from her senior English teacher. The project required students to show their values in life and what represents them as people in the form of a mandala.

“I immediately fell in love with the assignment and felt compelled to draw out my values symbolically and metaphysically,” Alvarado-Osuna said.

“Mis Valores de la Vida” evolved throughout the school year. Alvarado-Osuna created four distinct renders of the piece using different mediums. The final version is what is featured in Creative Outlook.

“My last endeavor was the most successful and rewarding one,” she said. “The acrylic with charcoal on canvas painting made it to my graduation ceremony for the audience to gaze at and also won me first place for this contest. I will always be grateful to Mr. Nickerson for assigning us such a profound project.”

“Mis Valores de la Vida” means “my values of life.” In the composition, Alvarado-Osuna is placed in the center, representing herself. On her head is a white flower, whose color seems to be fading, symbolizing purity and innocence. The stars above transfix her eyes, epitomizing truth not too far from higher conscious, or the universe, that she finds significant.

“I contemplate a lot about truths that are not seen,” she explained. “But I seek them anyways from gazing at the stars at night. It is a form of guidance.”

The placement of her hands gives evidence to her contemplation and features them as an asset that enables her to create art. Her smooth arms and wrists morph into rough, textured barks. And at the bottom rests what is most precious to her – her family – personified as root fetuses that enclose the seed of her heart, embodying existence and life.

Despite the recognition that “Mis Valores de la Vida” has brought, Alvarado-Osuna said if her artwork was in a museum and she were giving the group tour, she would describe it to them using one word and one word only, “Unfinished.”

“There is no shame in this,” she said. “Even the master painters and other great talented artists never got to finish a few of their best artworks. I happen to be one of those artists who tend to leave a painting unfinished. It is very difficult for me to actually finish a painting because I say that, as a perfectionist, an artwork can never reach its true complete form. There is always something to redo and add.”

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Alexia Lang holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri. Lang has worked in newspapers, magazines, radio and blogs, producing award-winning content centered around community and the arts.

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