YPA, Venicearts 2016, the Candidates

Here are the 10 students from Venice Arts, lead by Issa Sharp, Lead Photographer and Director of Education, by alphabetical order:

Andrea Abrego, Melissa Alvarez, Rickie Bautista, Silvia Curiel, Jane Estrada,

Lorraine Gutierrez, Jarod Mendoza, Rocio Padilla, Ashley Sanchez, Mark Tomilin

Purchase their books here:

Mark – http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104753?__r=576065 Jarod- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104732?__r=576065
Rocio- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104761?__r=576065
Melissa- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104756?__r=576065
Jane- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104730?__r=576065
Ashley- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104727?__r=576065
Andrea- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104691?__r=576065
Silvia- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104764?__r=576065
Rickie- http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1104759?__r=576065

Andrea Abrego, age 17

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Andrea’s presentation at Venice Arts



My project is about women who have gone through unexpected challenges that have made them stronger. The idea was inspired by my mother and aunt, two of my role models. As a single parent, my mom worked from sunrise to sunset while studying, raising a family, and struggling to pay off debts. Although she tries to hide it, you can see what she’s has been through deep in her eyes. Both my mom and my aunt have inspired me by achieving their dreams while living independently. When my uncle passed away, my aunt had to work long shifts in factories and beauty salons to support her sons.

All of the women in my pictures were photographed and interviewed about the challenges they have faced and how those struggles changed their lives.


andrea abrego



Melissa Alvarez, age 16

at PhotoLA booth
Melissa 3
Melissa’s presentation at Venice Arts







It is my intention, that through photography, I may be able to document what Mexican-American heritage means not only to me, but to my family and all those who are part of this culture. Much of my work focuses on my parents and the relationship that I have with them.

My uncles are also a big part of this project and are important because their story of immigration is one that resonates with so many other families. More than anything, this project has turned into a reflection of my community. The people that I photograph dream and hope and fear like so many others who’ve done so before. In short, my project has become about a bigger family than I could have ever hoped for.

Mexican-American heritage means growing up in the U.S. and having opportunities that my parents didn’t have. It is growing up knowing that my parents left their home and their family so that they could provide something better for their children. For my dad, Michoacan stopped being home when he realized that he could have something better in the U.S. For my mom, home is the place where her children are at, but of course she still misses her family in Jalisco. Like my parents, many others have left their homes behind in Mexico in search of a better life, a better home, and a better future for their children. I sees these dreams, hopes, and fears reflected in the people within my community. The relationships between families and the community bond each person in the assurance that wherever they go they will always have a family to rely on.


Melissa Alvarez

Rickie Bautista, age 19

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Rickie’s presentation at Venice Arts


I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but my parents came from Oaxaca in search for a better life. In coming to the Unites States, my parents have made many sacrifices, including leaving friends and family behind. Joining my mother at her job cleaning people’s houses when I was younger was quite a contrast to my own home life and seemed like a dream to me. In my work, I explore the intersection of my Mexican heritage and my life growing up as an American in Los Angeles.
This past summer, my parents gave me the opportunity to visit Oaxaca. This trip made me think about my position as a first generation and the responsibility that it comes with. Where my family is from, many people cannot afford someof the luxuries I have, like public education.

My project is about being between two worlds, not being as close to my Oaxacan culture, and what it means to be American.


Rickie Bautista IMG_2803



Silvia Curiel, age 18

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Silvia’s presentation at Venice Arts




My project is about re-discovering myself through my culture—the intertwining and twisting of my American and Oaxacan/Mexican influences. Through this project I hope to find answers to the growing uncertainty of the question: Who am I? When I was younger, I was indifferent about my culture; I was more interested in the latest gaming device than the colors vibrantly dancing around me. Now that I am older there is so much that I want to know about my Oaxacan heritage. Last year I began documenting my family, and recently, I have been exploring Oaxacan culture in my family, the hopes and dreams of my parents, and growing up disconnected from our parents’ culture.


Silvia Curiel



Jane Estrada, age 16

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Jane’s presentation at Venice Arts


Throughout my life, my parents are the people who have most influenced my life and have shaped who I am today. They have plans and expectations for my life that they hope I will fulfill. At times, I agree with them, while other times, I don’t. Sometimes I have goals and plans of my own, which my parents don’t always agree with. This causes tension between us, and it is even more frustrating to talk to them when they are narrow-minded. Through my project, I want to capture the moments that reveal the personalities of my family, and the moments of both tension and love that we face. JANE ESTRADA


jane Estrada



Lorraine Gutierrez, age 16

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Lorraine’s presentation at Venice Arts



I’m from Inglewood, California, one of the most terrible places to live. Inglewood is not “The City of Champions”, it is more like the “City of Ruins.” In Inglewood, we were told to dream big, but our opportunities were limited.

My project is about my place as the youngest of three daughters growing up in a house with immigrant parents. My parents have been through a lot for my sisters and me. My mother crossed the border alone on Christmas Eve with the help of a stranger. She left her family behind including my older sister Maria, who was only 9 months old. My father came here in a trunk, not knowing anyone, and spent 6 months hiding in a home, unable to shower. I have seen my parents struggle trying to establish a better life for themselves and for us.

I’ve lived in the same house my entire life. The cracks on the wall that were once small are now huge.  I have heard fights in the streets become gunshots that eventually became sirens. My  pictures are about the evolution of my home life. I am the youngest sibling, the last one to leave.  I can remember when the house was full of color and life. Back then, the house felt warm, my sisters were home and we were happy.  Now, my sisters are gone and I come home to an empty house as my parents work long hours. These days, I’m growing up on my own.


lorraine guttierez



Jarod Mendoza, age 16

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Jarod’s presentation at Venice Arts


My dad got me into bicycles, I used to watch him fix his bike, taking it apart and putting it back together.  In my family, bicycles go way back –  my grandpa used to ride bikes to deliver newspapers every morning before school.  Now I fix and build my own bikes.
My friends and I ride our bikes all around LA for a workout but also for fun. We always meet at school early, so we have time to ride to places like the LA River or Venice Beach. We ride as a group, and look out for each other only really stopping when we get to our destination. JARED MENDOZA



Rocio Padilla, age

presentation at Venice Arts
Rocio’s presentation at Venice Arts
Rocio Padilla 2
Rocio’s presentation at Venice Arts


My project is about how my family and the multicultural environment of Los Angeles have shaped my life. My parents sacrificed the comfort of being with their families in Mexico to come to LA. It hasn’t been easy, they have always had to work very hard just to get by. All my life they have pushed me to put as much diligence and heart as possible into the things that I am passionate about. They believe that working hard at what you love to do will bring you a happy and stable life.

Los Angeles is the most diverse county in the US . Growing up here, I’ve been exposed to many cultures and ideas. I’ve photographed ethnic and political events that have inspired and changed me. I’ve become more culturally tolerant and highly aware of what’s going on in the world. Living here, has made me appreciate differences in customs and beliefs. LA seems to have a culture of its own, my culture.


rocio padilla



Ashley Sanchez, age 19

at PhotoLA booth
presentation at Venice Arts
Ashley’s presentation at Venice Art


Coming out to my family was a huge step in my life, and it started a chain reaction of events that forever changed and reshaped my life. I’m going through a journey of dealing with many strong emotions and changes, and learning how my decisions affect those around me. My project is the documentation of this journey, and an exploration of who I am and who I wish to be.


Ashley Sanchez



Mark Tomilin, age 19

presentation at Venice Arts
presentation at Venice Arts
presentation at Venice Arts
presentation at Venice Arts










The day my stepmom announced that my stepsister was coming to the United States, I had the same sensation as if a snowflake had fallen behind the collar of my jacket. In retrospect, the signs were there, but I did not see them. Yes, she did start talking to me again, but I did not think much of it. In my naivety, I thought she genuinely missed me. Honestly, I did not know how to react to the news. I had hardly talked to her since I immigrated to Los Angeles in 2009. Although I was bewildered about her arrival, my sister and I quickly made up for lost time. I wondered how different her experience would be immigrating at age 20 from my own moving here when I was 14.

There was a time when my sister knew English better than I did, which made me jealous. We used to sit on a queen-sized bed in my grandmother’s room, and she would teach me English. It was a rather futile attempt; I never got beyond Tarzan sentences until I moved here and began socializing with people. Six years later, I am the one sitting on that bed, refreshing her memory about simple past, simple present, and simple future. But her future will not be that simple….

My sister’s journey was an opportunity for me to reflect on my own immigration experience, and how her experience would be different based on her age and gender.


mark tomilin



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