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Artist of the Month: Elly Cuevas

This month, Santa Barbara High’s highlighted artist is Elly Cuevas. Not only is she an academic overachiever, she is an incredible artist. Cuevas has been in the Visual Arts and Design Academy (VADA) since she was a freshman, though she has been painting since she was in fifth grade. Cuevas attended the summer camps VADA hosted for younger kids to be able to take part of what happens behind the scenes, and get a look at an academy that they could take part in once they start high school.

Cuevas was born and raised in Santa Barbara and has been drawing for as long as she can remember. When asked about how she can reach her full artistic potential, Cuevas says “I don’t think anyone can reach their ‘full’ potential, but I think I can get somewhere near there.”  

She continued, “My biggest inspiration is Andrew Cadima. I love his art style. I found him through TikTok and he has honestly inspired my journey of oil painting.” When talking about her future, Cuevas hopes to attend Pomona College and she is confident that art will always be her hobby.

Las semillas de mis raíces’ translated to “The Seeds of my Roots” is the phrase that shapes the direction of my artistic ideas. ‘My seeds’ represent my ancestors, ‘my roots’  represent my ancestry. It’s a collection of the Mexican traditions I grew up with and the experiences of my family members that have been archived through artifacts. I put time into building my canvases from scratch, ranging from sawing wood into the anatomical representation of a heart to stretching a canvas over a wooden structure that I hammered together and gessoing it. My culture is always a factor in my artwork, through the vibrant Mexican colors, the Spanish words in the background, or the recreation of recurring items you could find anywhere on a stroll in Cortázar, Guanajuato, my family’s hometown in Mexico. Everything I paint is connected to my family in one way or another; it’s a way for me to acknowledge my lineage.”

Cuevas received both the Schall Best of Show and the Amber O’Neill Honorary Art Scholarships for her portrayal of her grandmother, Esperanza, who was attending with Cuevas. The Best of Show Scholarship is only awarded to one of the 20 Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara Art Scholarship recipients. Cuevas received $3,000 from the Amber O’Neill Honorary Art Scholarships and an additional $1,000 for the Schall Best of Show. 

Caption.[Image Credit Elly Cuevas]


  • Camila Garcia-Otero

    Camila is a sophomore at SBHS. She is on the cheer team and loves going out with her friends. This is her second year as a staff writer on The Forge.

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