We are proud to introduce the 15 exceptional young people who will serve on our 2023-24 AZ Youth Arts Council!
Established in 2019, the AZ Youth Arts Council advises the Arts Commission on grant programs and initiatives that directly affect young people. As they do so over the next 9 months, they will review issues related to arts and culture programs and services for young people and learn about policy related to equal access to the arts for all young people in Arizona.
Lola Arvizu, 18
My name is Lola Arvizu and I attend the University of Arizona for Art History and Chemistry. I enjoy making and talking about art, as well as getting involved in Tucson local art scene. I attend and volunteer at various local art galleries and I am part of a small local band. I paint, play bass, make prints, and more.
Amaya Bailey, 17
My name is Amaya, I’m 17 and a senior at Gilbert High School. I love any kind of art you put in front of me including metals & jewelry, photography, painting, and ceramics. I am an active member of my school’s first Black Student Union and hope to make art more inclusive for everybody.
Nessa Choi, 16
My name is Nessa Choi, and I am a junior in high school. I’ve always enjoyed art in all forms: painting tiny canvases, making frog families out of clay, hot gluing fabric scraps into doll clothes. These days I still paint and sew, and I also play the bass and do musical theater. Last spring, I costumed a production of Willy Wonka Jr., which involved designing and sewing outfits (I can use a sewing machine now, so no hot glue), teaching younger kids to make their own candy accessories to wear in the show, and helping hand-letter and paint sets.
Paulina Fontes, 17
I’m Paulina, I’m a senior at Rio Rico High School and have a passion for art and animals. I have 2 younger brothers at home, a dog and cat, whom I adore. I love art in general and work with multiple media such as oil/chalk pastels, watercolor, acrylic painting, ceramics, and graphite drawings. I’d say I have a broad range of interests like surrealism, expressionism, realism, abstract, and more.
Archana Gurudu, 15
My name is Archana Gurudu, and I am a sophomore at Paradise Valley High School. Visual art has been a passion of mine for over 8 years, and I have always been fascinated by its ability to promote self-expression and creativity. By working with art students at the Scottsdale Artists’ School, as well as observing my own self-growth from art, I have come to recognize the transformative power that visual arts programs can have on youth. I look forward to working with the AZ Youth Arts Council to help increase youth art equity in our state.
Olivia Hanson, 15
My name is Olivia Hanson and I’m a sophomore at Paradise Honors High School. You’ll usually find me typing up scripts or singing through my favorite musicals with friends. The arts have always made up a big part of my life. This is thanks to the amazing communities I’ve gotten to be part of for both writing and music. Through these experiences, I’ve learned knowledge and community are the most powerful tools in one’s arsenal. I believe this should be made accessible to every young artist and that’s what I intend to do as a member of this council.
Jordan Harris, 14
My name is Jordan Harris, I’m currently 14 years old and a sophomore at Xavier College Preparatory. I’m a self-taught artist who started young and falls into the line of visual arts, specifically painting, drawing, and occasionally digital art. I joined the AZ Youth Arts Council in hopes of making a difference in art and exploring different cultures through art in itself while attempting to flourish in mine. I can’t wait for the year to come and am excited to see what it brings.
Sophia Lin, 16
My name is Sophia Lin, a junior at BASIS Scottsdale. I find inspiration in the beauty of art through painting, dancing, writing, and speaking. I advocate for social justice through my paintings displayed at the State Capitol and Congressman’s office. Having danced all dance styles for ten years, I spread the joy as a performer and dance instructor for nonprofit organizations. Serving as an ambassador for FreeArts for Abused Children and the president of iReach, I focus on bridging Arizona’s education gaps. I aspire to learn about policy and advocate for equal access to the arts for Arizona youth!
Addie Omerza, 18
San Tan Valley
My name is Addie and I am a sophomore theatre major at Eastern Arizona College. I am very passionate about the arts. I have been performing since I was seven years old and has loved every minute of it.
Molly McIntier, 14
My name is Molly McIntier, I am a 14-year-old freshman student at Yuma High School. I have always been involved in the arts whether it is drawing, musicals, or music. I’ve played the piano from the age of 5 to 13, I’ve been playing the flute since 7th grade, and I plan on going all through high school with it. I am also vice president of Yuma Highs Creative Crims Art Club and a part of the Mastery of the Arts program. I am super exited to make a difference in art around my community.
Mateo Pena, 15
I am Mateo, a 15-year-old passionate musical theatre enthusiast. I have attended Trinity Christian School for nine years, and I love all the arts. I hope to become a professional actor on the screen or the stage.
Stephanie Polasky, 18
My name is Stephanie Polasky. I just graduated High School from Lee Williams High School and I am currently attending Mohave Community College and working on my AA in Liberal Arts. My main art focus is technical theatre, but more specifically lighting and stage management.
Nathan Spencer, 14
My name is Nathan, and I’m a sophomore at Prescott High School. My background is in piano and violin. Recent highlights include winning first in the Flagstaff Piano Festival Competition and the Prescott Center for the Arts Scholarship Competition (in both piano and violin) this spring and being the only freshman at my school accepted into the All-State Honors Orchestra last school year. In February, I will be a soloist with the Prescott Pops Symphony.
Saomy Valentin, 15
Hi, my name is Saomy Valentin. I’m a 15-year-old sophomore at Centennial High School. I have dedicated my life to dance since I was 3. I currently compete in dance competitions, assist classes at my studio and school. Every year I perform with my studio Onstage Dance Academy at community events like Glendale Glitters, the State Fair of Arizona, and others. I love drawing and expressing my emotions through them and have had my art displayed at the Peoria Arts Festival since 2nd grade.
Jaden Wu, 16
My name is Jaden, and I’m a high school senior at BASIS Oro Valley. I’m super excited to be a part of the youth council this year! I play the piano, dabble in graphic design, and am passionate about using the arts to elevate youth voice. I’m looking forward to working with this group to increase access and provide opportunities for youth!
Banner Photo: Residents of Douglas celebrate the completion of a new community mural. Photo by German Padilla, courtesy of Border Arts Corridor.