City Year AmeriCorps member Michelle Uriostegui-Fierro ('14-'15) mentored Jose* while serving on the JPMorgan Chase team at Mendez High School in Boyle Heights. A photo of his "tagging" artwork was originally posted to the team's Instagram account (@CYLA_MendezJags). The piece was also included in City Year's #InstaGallery "pop-up" photography exhibit on June 4 at the De Re Gallery in West Hollywood.
Here is Michelle's reflection on how his art work came to be, and the impact it had not only on Jose, but the team as a whole.
Tell me a little bit about Jose and what it was like working with him.
The first thing you notice about Jose is his contagious smile. He is inclusive and loves to help his classmates and other people.
Why is art so important to Jose?
He started drawing when he was a little kid. His dad inspired him to do draw and it was something that motivated him to learn. He loves to create art because it was an activity he and his dad enjoyed together. I encouraged him, as well, because I knew that drawing was what he cared about most. Even now, he is dedicated to pursuing his dream and becoming an artist.
What did it mean to you when he "tagged" City Year for the team?
Seeing him create this image meant to me that we had built a relationship. He understood we were there to help him -- and he knew he was there to help myself and my team of AmeriCorps members. For example, he was always more than willing to help our team create posters for school events. This reflected his involvement in our program and his appreciation for the team.