Aug 18

Transformation: How Art Ed student Ailisha unearthed her inner extrovert

by: Carly Rapaport-Stein

What happens when you spend six years steeped in Mural Arts’ art education classes and programs? For vivacious sixteen-year-old Ailisha, the answer is simple: total transformation.

Mural Arts started out as a convenient outlet for Ailisha, who goes by Ail. Her mother, tired of seeing Ail sitting at home alone, scribbling over every available scrap of paper, started researching summer art classes for Ailisha. Back then, shy ten-year-old Ail had a best friend in music, something rich and comforting, and the beautiful inner world of her books, but had trouble connecting to others her own age. She smiles when she talks about her younger self:

“I cannot stress how much of an introvert I was. I would be reading Anne of Green Gables when everyone else was playing in gym.”

It’s hard to see even a shadow of an introvert in the poised, smiling, bubbly young woman talking fluidly and insightfully about Mural Arts and the world around her.  She still loves books, but now, she has a host of friends and mentors who make up her Mural Arts family. Through six years of classes, Ail has developed her artistic voice, exploring the realms of drawing, painting, tile, and sculpture, and while she’s strengthened her art, she’s undergone a personal renaissance.

Ail claims it’s the atmosphere that sets the tone for everything else – an atmosphere cultivated by the teachers. They strike the right balance: it’s friendly, encouraging, challenging, and completely unique. Ail sums up that special something: “It doesn’t feel like what I’ve heard people describe as the atmosphere of a job or work. It feels like home away from home.”

Mural Arts makes you want to spill out your guts a bit and let people know who you really are. I feel sheltered and open at the same time.

- Ailisha

Ailisha and her class strike a pose in front of First Impressions: The Art in Me, by the class and Brad Carney. Photo by Steve Weinik.

It’s changed Ail in ways that surprise her, particularly when it comes to connecting with the people around her:

“I’ve been exposed to so many different personalities and people that I didn’t think I’d get along with, and somehow we’ve found a common ground. That’s a great thing about Mural Arts – it gives you flexibility. There was one girl I didn’t think I would get along with, but one day I saw her drawing. It was interesting, and I’d never seen drawing like it before. Then, she shared some of her writing with me, and I shared with her. I was put off by her exterior at first, but once you settle down and get to know someone a bit more and and they share something as personal as their sketchbook slash diary, you get to know them more. That’s one of the instances where I was more vulnerable to a new personality. And something about the atmosphere at Mural Arts makes you want to spill out your guts a bit and let people know who you really are. I feel sheltered and open at the same time. It’s a safe environment. And people actually really care.”

Effervescent Ail, with her giant grin and her Korean-pop inspired hairdo, is ready to tackle whatever challenge comes next, and her world is wide open with college and career possibilities. Wherever she goes, though, this born-and-bred, outgoing Mural Arts-er says with confidence that she’ll never stray far from these beautiful Mural Arts roots.

The best thing about Mural Arts is that it plants little seeds in everyone and then helps the seeds blossom.

- Ailisha

Last updated: Aug 22, 2016

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Tiffy Dancy says


Ailisha your are my favorite teenage artist

Syneef Blackwell says

Aww that's my sister