• “Astronaut,” Paola Michelle Silva Lizárraga
  • Paola Michelle Silva Lizárraga

Paola Michelle Silva Lizárraga, 2019 Cover Contest Winner

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“Astronaut,” by 17-year-old Paola Michelle Silva Lizárraga, was selected by our judges as the 2019 Creative Outlook Cover Contest Winner.

A senior at Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS), Silva Lizárraga resides in San Diego, Calif.

A multi-media artist, Silva Lizárraga’s favorite medium to work with is film, particularly when it involves experimenting.

“Add images to music, poetry to video, and something new erupts,” Silva Lizárraga said. “Crafting a polished script is a difficult but rewarding process, but letting go in cinema can be very fun, too.”

Silva Lizárraga is drawn to art in its many forms because it helps preserve information – almost making an artist a collector.

“The colorful design of Japanese bubblegum, typography on a lost dog poster, science fiction comics, family gossip at dinner tables. Art lets me make connections off of things that inspire me, but have no relation on the surface.”

Silva Lizárraga dream is to be a filmmaker, comic book artist, illustrator and short story writer.

“In my dreams, I’m doing it all at the same time.”

Chat with the Winner

When did you first discover your artistic talent?

In their childhood, my parents lived in a small town in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Every summer, spring and winter vacation, they’d drive me to it. With nothing to see, nothing to do in the town of dust, I grew bored. I planned my great escape, for which I only needed two things: a notebook and a pen. It was enough to explore all that the real world couldn’t give me at the time, those infinite worlds of magic and fantasy.

In what ways has art impacted your life?

My high school was filled with geniuses, statuesque models, athletes, adventurous people that were admired and respected. Or, at least, it felt so. Still, it made me believe I was too boring to be noticed, something inside me made it impossible to belong in this elite group. I turned to paintings and novels that talked about ordinary people, boring people like what I believed myself to be. It gave me the courage I needed to tell my story. I might not be athletic, a prodigy or special, but I had something to say. I drew illustrations that showed what I wanted to be, and with them, I found many people who felt ordinary, just like me.

What was your inspiration for “Astronaut”?

There’s this episode in “Mad Men” where, after a secretary dies at an ad agency in New York, a certain character must deliver a eulogy for her. “Mad Men” is, among many things, about what women could and couldn’t be in the 1960s. What the character says about the deceased secretary puts it all into perspective: “She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the thirty-seventh floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.”

All the women before me had been astronauts, conquering the unknown. Poets, painters, scientists, filmmakers who had many people against them. I don’t want to be an astrophysicist, but I do want to soar the stars. I want to reach my dreams, and go beyond what’s been done before.

How would you describe your piece of art if it were in a museum and you were giving the museum tour to a group of patrons?

This is a drawing made in colored pencil of a woman out in space. The swirls around her are galaxies, they are stars. Notice how she looks beyond the frame. I like to think she, after an arduous journey out of Earth, gasps in joy at what she’s found, or at what she’s become.

What would you say to other students who are interested in art but haven’t given it a try?

Buy a notebook and take it everywhere. Observe and draw, take notes of the sketches you liked and didn’t like. Doodle even that which does not exist, draw loosely.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Everybody can make art, and everyone has something to say. Sometimes art can be about not having anything to say. Rest in knowing that there’s no prerequisites to be an artist. Cut and paste, doodle on pages, adjust the camera lens. It’s valid, and it’s art.

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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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