Teen Interview #13

Madison Castro, 17.


What school do you go to?

Graham Kapowsin High School.

Has the school influenced your artwork?

I think its been supportive of a lot of students. Not necessarily me, because I haven’t put myself into the art program at my own school. [Because] it’s just kind of hobby that I do and I don’t have a lot of time or credit room to do that. But they do have elective room, elective credit, for people to use at my school for the art program. The art program at my high school is actually pretty developed and supported. They do art shows, contests or things like that. They do that pretty often compared to other school districts. Not necessarily supporting me… but that’s not their fault-it’s mine. [Because] I just choose to not include myself in that stuff. I just stick to my stuff and do my own thing.

GK has developed music programs as well. Between art and music, which one do they support more?

I think they do musical things more just because there are a lot more people who start doing musical instruments. And learning that stuff pretty early on, while art is just a thing that people don’t encourage as much because people think you can’t make a career off of it. At least not a prosperous one. So I would say that the musical program is more supportive there.

You said you don’t have credit room to do a lot of art classes. Do students at GK do Core 24?

Yes, we do. We have to get twenty-four credits to graduate high school. I don’t know how many elective credits they give you. I think they give you two a year, but a lot of those are filled by computer classes that you need to take. Or technical classes or things like that, that people need that has to do with their career. But it doesn’t give them much room to be creative in school. They [artists] do it on their own. A lot of people who really like art, do it on their own no matter what and just try their best to be a part of it in school. And show their school their talents and things. But there’s not a lot of financial support as well. With people to show off their art and learn from it and grow as people.

Had you not been in Core 24, would you be in more art classes?

I think definitely I would have. I’ve always wanted to take an art class because I’m self-taught. And I’ve always wanted to see how it’s technically supposed to be done. I don’t know. There’s a lot of ways that you can do more. I wanted to be educated on it so I can develop my skills and enhance them to a point where I’m prouder of them and I feel like I’m living up to my potential. On my own I just kind of do my best. I’m proud of it but not as much as I would be if I knew how to use the tools and things like that.

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From what the committee has seen, high schools tend to focus more on sports, rather than art. Why do you think that is?

I think that people like sports just because it’s American culture. I think I just surround myself with people who support art and musical things in school a lot. And they are very enthusiastic for that. But this school, and other school districts from what I’ve experienced, people are more enthused about sports. Because they think that it’s a team effort and a lot of people just want to be social. And they think that art is not a social thing. That you do it by yourself. But people can do art together and that’s something that people don’t realize.

Do you find the way America focuses on art, to be toxic, or beneficial?

I think that it’s less the art, more the people. The people who are doing the art. Because people are just really obsessed with the drama of it all. And it’s kind of sad how it’s turned into like… you can put up any video of yourself jumping into pool and setting it on fire or something [laughs]. And you can go viral for that and be famous years after that and it’s not really talent. It’s not really hard work. And I’m not saying that no one does that now because there are people who try to use their platforms for themselves and their own aspirations. But a lot of things with fame now, is supporting people being asinine. It’s not the art they are showing, its more the people that are doing it. And their own lives. because people can’t have their own lives. They don’t decide to. They just like watching other people’s.

Who is responsible for implementing change in Tacoma?

As we get older…the youth are the future of America. And if we support that and encourage it to its highest level, out of the years as we get older, and grow as people and we catch the mistakes being made now and learn to speak up about the things that  affected us in negative ways- we can change that. I just think it’s really important to know that even if we are young, there’s so many people who can do things. Like what you guys are doing here.

Who do you look up to that is implementing change?

I don’t think I look up to celebrities who are implementing change because I know that they do that. I’ve met a lot of educators. Musical educators and arts educators at my school and other districts and things from contests. And things that I’ve been on and meeting them. And seeing how they support their peers and people that they mentor to grow and never stop doing what they’re doing. And letting them know how important their voice in the art community and musical community and all of it. Just generally the educators I’ve met that let people know that their voice is heard.

Are there any talents you wish you had besides your current ones?

I’d like to get better at watercolor painting and oil painting. I just want to learn how to use a lot of different mediums. I just like painting in general and I’ve only ever really used watercolor and acrylic. I just use plain pencils. I don’t really use pencil pencils or anything. I just use like a school pencil. Like a number 2 pencil and go to town because I don’t even know how to use professional pens. I’ve never been taught professionally. I just do the best with what I have. And I just wish I knew how to use professional things and how that affects the art it’s supposed to look like. I just think I’m underdeveloped in some things. I know I am, and I just want to get better.

Is there a benefit to in-person teaching?

Well, considering I haven’t ever actually had in person teaching [laughs]. What I hypothesize would be… the benefit I’ve heard is that you can see it happening first hand and you can stop them and ask them what they’ve been doing in first hand. And you can stop them and ask them how they did it. And how to mimic that and how to include that in your own art style. Everyone has their own different expressions that they want to show the world. When you’re in an art class I believe they do teach how to do it one set way, but you need that knowledge. And use that knowledge to your advantage when you’re doing your own unique works. Compared to like doing it on YouTube. I’ve watched a lot of weird videos where it’s like, ‘You use this this this and this,’ and it’s usually like digital things. What if you don’t have that software? What if you can’t afford that software? So usually that’s why I like to stick with pen, pencil, and paper and it ends up looking okay, at least from what I’ve heard [laughs].

How can less privileged people build their art skills?

Personally, I didn’t have any special things to start out with. I think I had the same crayon box all throughout elementary school. [Madison’s mom] She didn’t want to buy new ones every year. She had four kids to buy school supplies for every year and that’s hundreds every year and we couldn’t afford that. So that’s how I taught myself. Using what I had was like a paper at school, like I did it on lined paper. I doodled on everything. Eventually, it was something that I asked for on special occasions, like materials. I have canvases stacked in my room currently because so many people have been kind enough to give me them, because they support me and my growth as an artist… And I think that’s what mainly drives people to keep going. The fact that they don’t have a lot and they want to see what they can do if they had… more resources. It just shows the drive that people have to express themselves, and that they are confident in their voice.

How do you look at something then decide that you want to draw it?

Mainly I like to draw people. Mainly because people are intricate and people are different. It’s fun to see how many different ways you can draw a person and how many different styles you can do it. Sometimes I get inspiration for a drawing from seeing a person and I’m like, ‘wow they look so unique!’ [Laughs] In a nice way! And I’m like, ‘wow, I wonder how I could draw that” and then I just kind of come up with it as I go and I’m like “wow, that turned out okay.” I just see people and kind of come up with it as I go. I just kind of see people. I do stuff besides people. I do some landscape things. I look at stuff for a long time because I feel [like] it helps in my mind; by just studying things a lot. My mom kind of realizes that when I do that. I just kind of space out and she’s like “are you okay?” and I’m like “yeah”. It’s just–I’m like “that’s just really beautiful” and then I go back and try to recreate it because I want people to experience the beauty I saw.

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What can Tacoma do to bring teens together?

I think that this group is definitely a good start because you guys are reaching out a lot and it’s really admirable. And I think that the way you guys are doing right now is pretty great. You guys got all the way to me and I’m in little old Graham. I’ll be sure to talk to other people about this. And I feel like we’re so close to being adults. We’re on the cusp of making huge changes, starting out by making this teen group and reaching out to teens and letting them know of their importance and that their roles in the art society matters.

Go follow Madison on Instagram ! @cas.maddie