San Diego County Art

Directing Change is an evaluated suicide prevention and mental health program with the mission to educate young people about critical health topics through art and promote social justice and health by changing conversations in schools and communities.
2022

“Burned Out”

3rd Place Monthly Prompt April - Cannabis Decoded
2022
Artist: Sara Croll
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva
Advisor: Beth Duncan
"Burned Out" tells the story of two childhood friends, one healthy and happy, and the other under the influence of cannabis. Their relationship used to be filled with trust, good health, and love. Things changed when one made positive decisions about her life, and the other succumbed to peer pressure and started using weed. Under-aged cannabis use literally "Burned Out" her ability to keep and maintain relationships with her closest friends and family. Her physical and mental health declined, and her grades dropped drastically. While her childhood friend continued to thrive, the other began to disappear. This is a reality in middle and high schools. Good friends make different choices, and those choices can tear them apart. Weed can burn away a person's ability to think clearly, and can negatively impact the user's health and future. It's difficult as a friend to see this happening and not be able to help. If this is you, and you are the healthy friend, never give up on the other person, and never give up HOPE that they can return to their original self. Showing this through art was a challenge at first, but after making the decision to literally burn the paper, the message became clear.

Black Lives Matter

2nd place Justice - March 2022
2022
Artist: Meliya Russom
San Diego County
Grade: 12
The Preuss School
Advisor: Amanda Torre
I wrote this poem after the murder of George Floyd and the rise in the Black Lives Matter movements across the US. I decided to write a poem because it is a very expressive form of literal arts. When writing essays, we are always taught to be formal and objective, but in this poem I was able to write about the frustration and anger I felt, but also the admiration and hope I have for the Black Lives Matter movement without any repression of my words.

Hope to Hug

January Hope 2nd Place
2022
Artist: Sara Croll
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan 
2021 was a year without hugs. It denied us of smiles, and it denied us the ability to personally connect with one another. This new year I hope to see hugs- and with it, happiness for myself, for my friends and family, and for my community. Hugs are warm and comforting- and I hope that soon, we are able to experience this without worry of illness or infection from the virus.
2021

Parents

2021
Artist: Julia Liu
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Mengping Ou
I created this entry from the November prompt, the art of gratitude. At first, the idea of gratitude came in the form of family, or specifically, my mother and father. I reflected on what they have given me, my heritage. With this idea in mind, I wanted to express both my gratitude towards my parents and also towards my heritage in one piece, creating a traditional Chinese brush painting piece on rice paper. I decided to focus on the importance of hair, one of which is significant in showing who I am, and also my identity as an Asian American. Also, Chinese Confucius said that hair is one that is gifted by parents. With these ideas in mind, I chose to connect the hairs of my parents to mine, a sign to thank them for giving me my life through their sacrifices and hard work. I created the piece "Parents" to thank my parents, and to also appreciate my heritage and identity.

Hope Poem

November Hope and Justice Honorable Mention
2021
Artist: Sophia Rodriguez
San Diego County
San Ysidro High School
Advisor: Lolit Romero

The Cat

2021
Artist: Nathalia Wittlin
San Diego County
Grade: 12
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Jose Paulo Wittlin
In my artwork, I incorporated the world throughout the vision of a black cat. The people looking out of the art piece are the viewers that can only see half of a man's body, focusing only on the cat and the butterfly. Since we cannot see much of the man, we look directly at them. I wanted to demonstrate a moment that I have a lof in my life where I just feel tired, or too stressed to focus on the small things of life, which is what the black cat and the butterfly show; they demonstrate the beauty on the small things in life, that sometimes can go unnoticed by others since we tend to stress ourselves by focusing only on the future and on what we need to work on. What makes me get through the rough and stressful times is simply do like the black cat, which is look at the small things that life provides us, and just for a minute stop to appreciate them. This is what gives me hope and power to keep going.

Relief for the Chained

2021
Artist: Nivi Chozhan
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Alli Chozhan
My painting shows the injustice within the world and a dove is blooming out of the center of the earth. People are kind people as long as we try to be. Sadly, colored people are generally oppressed which is why the arms supporting the earth is a brown color. The shards of the earth is also cracking and falling towards the ground as seen in the picture. I would like to note that the hands were inspired from the internet. But I did come up with the idea.

Hope Within My Walls

2021
Artist: Brittney Ruby Duran
San Diego County
Grade: College Freshman
California State University of San Marcos
Advisor: Danielle McMartin
My visual art is a representation of how I find hope and brightness in today's events. I feel safe and hopeful within a creative environment. I love to paint and sing along all types of music because they're platforms that unite all people. It connects us, just like the internet. Because of the pandemic, we seem to find ourself easily hopeless and alone but the internet is a tool that has granted us the ability to connect with all different people. This is why I incorporated all these concepts into one. I wanted to demonstrate how unity and effort leads us to a hopeful and brighter tomorrow.

This is 2020

Honorable Mention January 2021 - Hope and Justice
2021
Artist: Taravat Mansournia
San Diego County
Grade: 10
Point Loma High School
Advisor: Katereh Mirza
Every human being in the year 2020 has felt the wide effects of injustice and hopelessness, and I wanted to write something that I can look look back on if ever we do move forward from 2020.

Not Enough

2021
Artist: Abigail Liao
San Diego County
Grade: 9
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Katie O'Brien
Through social media, peers, and ourselves, we often fall into a loop of our appearance, being controlled by our looks and body shape. I often hear people say that they are "not enough" of this and that, which leads to a mindset that is only focused on looks. Adding some elements of self-image, the person that is overall controlling our appearance is ourselves, so I drew a dark image of the girl being controlled. Feeling helpless and trapped as a life-less puppet is what our self-image has come to these days. Through this art piece, I was hoping for at least one person to look at themselves in the mirror and like their appearance without worrying about what others thought of them.

Family is my Hope

Honorable Mention April 2021 Montly Prompt: "Hope for Change"
2021
Artist: Cristo Juarez
San Diego County
Grade: 8
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
My submission relates to hope because it represents what has helped me and been there for me through the difficult changes this past year. It's what matters the most to me. Reaching for the green ribbon represents what I keep on going for what gives me motivation to keep on pushing forward. My family is my hope, I hope to help my family in all ways possible as I get older.

Alive Again

3rd place April 2021 Montly Prompt: "Hope for Change"
2021
Artist: Katrina Matic
San Diego County
Grade: 11
Torrey Pines Highschool
Advisor: Dragana Matic
Since the young age of eleven, mental health has been a large impacter in my life. I didn't plan on making it to sixteen. That was never my plan. There was no way I would let myself continue living this life full of emotional torment. Something switched this past year in my mind, however. I didn't see life as this annoyance I had to put up with. I didn't wake up dreading the fact that I had to get up and start another day. I didn't see the world as the enemy, myself as a ghastly parasite needing to be exterminated. I found a sense of worth inside me, despite the years of torture I put myself through. The other day I found myself at a moment of complete peace--laying in grass, feeling the blinding sun, cheeks warm, thoughts calmer than the waking dawn. It almost brought me to tears; I didn't remember the last time I was able to be carefree without experiencing self-deprecative thoughts. Smiling genuinely into the camera, I took a snapshot of this small, but mighty moment. That picture is what inspired me to create this artwork--I wanted to find a sense of closure in myself, and engrave in my mind the exact instant I realized there had been a change. I wove lime green ribbon into my hair to represent the stories that are hidden inside us all, pushed aside due to the stigma of struggle in our society. I'm not going to push those ribbons deep inside my pocket anymore, away from the world to see. I am proud of who I became, and proud of my journey to getting to where I am today--sixteen.

Seasons of Change

Honorable Mention April 2021 Montly Prompt: "Hope for Change"
2021
Artist: Daniela Carrasco
San Diego County
Grade: 7
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
Like flowers growing back after a hard winter, we will also come back after experiencing the stress of a global pandemic. As flowers represent new beginnings and springtime, the green ribbon represents new hope and the promise of positive change.

#HopeforChange

Honorable Mention April 2021 Montly Prompt: "Hope for Change"
2021
Artist: Kimberly Gomez
San Diego County
Grade: 8
Rancho Minerva Middle School
Advisor: Beth Duncan
The concept of growth and change is a desire to become a better version of yourself. Growth in yourself leads you to new opportunities, opportunities that don't come about until you grow and change into the person who is ready for them. Also as you grow and evolve, you learn to adjust changes in yourself. Some people never want to change. But change promotes happiness and mental strength. What I drew relates to mental health because taking care of yourself is important. Having confidence, motivation and self love leads you to accomplishing your goals and having a positive mindset. Your mental health is a priority.

Embrace

2021
Artist: Maggie Cesarini
San Diego County
Grade: 12
Torrey Pines High School
Advisor: Katie O’brien
A single, overworked father cradles his newborn child, the baby serene in her dreamlike state. The bags under his eyes and unshaven face punctuate an exhausted existence. His physical tiredness, however, is relegated to the background—replaced by his loving embrace with his child, delicately holding his baby’s hand, his touch providing the means for the baby’s tranquility. The father’s labors of love take many forms, but the most profound one is there in his offspring. He contemplates his gratitude for his good fortune in the midst of relentless uncertainty, as he silently projects to his child: “Let compassion always guide you on your journey.”
2020