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Virtual exhibition for pandemic-inspired art from local youth

Posted at 4:50 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 21:36:31-04

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) - Some COVID-inspired creativity from local youth is about to take center stage.

Leo Nava, 12, has been drawing since he was six.

"I love drawing, and it calms me down," said Nava.

It's a calm he appreciates amid the unknowns of the pandemic.

"Sometimes it helps me tell what I'm feeling ... It helps me ignore my surroundings about what's going on in the world, so I don't get as frustrated or stressed," said Nava.

He and dozens others have been tapping their pandemic-inspired creativity through online classes at the nonprofit, A Reason To Survive, a creative development program for under-served youth in the South Bay.

The voices of the youth are spoken through poignant photographs and original songs, some speaking the isolation so many are feeling. Some youth, like Nava, are drawn to drawings. Themes include superhero medical workers, toilet paper hoarding, beaches and that claustrophobic quarantine feeling.

One piece one by Nava shows a red-eyed Nava typing at a computer all day. In another example, Nava sketched a comic strip panel showing an apocalypse.

"The asteroid hitting the earth represents quarantine. People are scared. Don't know where it came from or what it's doing," said Nava.

Those feelings of fear, say the student's teachers, are mixed with anxiety, isolation, hope, joy and heroism — all part of their pandemic experience.

The creativity will shine in a virtual exhibition Saturday.

"The artwork says, 'Hear me. Listen to me. See me.' Their, voice, viewpoints and identity are the things that leap off the page and the music ... We need to be responsive to what they're telling us," said James Halliday, Executive Director of A Reason To Survive (ARTS).