The Power of Art as Activism at KIPP Endeavor

The Power of Art as Activism at KIPP Endeavor

The Museum of KIPP Art (MOKA) showcase and auction is an annual celebration of student creativity that emphasizes the importance of creating life-changing expanded learning opportunities through comprehensive art programs. 

This year, MOKA will take place at Spotify LA in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District on Friday, May 31, from 6-8:30 p.m.

Over the past three months, KIPP SoCal scholar artists have been mentored by their art educators to create original artwork inspired by this year’s theme, “Kaleidoscope.” The theme is set to inspire students to illustrate how each individual perceives shared experiences uniquely and highlight the importance of embracing diverse perspectives.

This year's MOKA art teachers include Gabriel “Mr. G” Avila and Mariely Pozuelos from KIPP Endeavor College Prep, who were both instrumental in launching the school's art program in 2022. We recently connected with the two educators to reflect on how they’ve worked together to grow the only TK-8 grade art program at KIPP SoCal. 

Mariely Pozuelos (left) and Gabriel “Mr. G” Avila (right)

Fostering Safe & Creative Spaces for Self-Expression 

Since its inception, Mr. G (who teaches grades TK-4) and Ms. Pozuelos (who teaches grades 5-8) have been working hard to create a robust TK-8 art program at KIPP Endeavor where students are not just passive recipients but active participants in their artistic journeys. 

For them, the art program isn’t just about teaching students to draw or paint — it’s about inspiring creativity, building confidence, and fostering a lifelong appreciation for the arts. 

Mr. G and Ms. Pozuelos strive to be the role models they never had growing up and show their students that people of color can thrive in the art community. The two admitted to not having an art educator of color until college, and the further advanced they got into their art careers, the fewer people of color they saw. 

They believe that education is a form of activism, specifically art education. In elementary school, the students focus on sustainability and use recycled materials, while the middle school students use art to discuss social justice issues relevant to their communities, such as racism, gender, mental health, and climate change.

“I want them to know there are Brown art teachers. I want them to get used to that so that they find diversity where they go and are more driven towards pursuing their passions,” said Mr. G. “A lot of our students don’t have access to Blicks or Michaels, but they know what a Fabuloso bottle is and can turn it into art.”

A sneak peek into Mr. G's vibrant classroom

Despite the program's two years of existence, the two educators have big dreams for themselves and their students. One of their biggest goals is to be a prominent TK-8 art program that prepares students for prestigious and competitive art schools like the LA County High School for the Arts, ArtCenter College of Design, and Otis College of Arts & Design. 

“We’re pushing them to explore their creativity in the arts to push them to the next level. We do that by challenging them and bringing college-level artwork to the elementary and middle school level,” said Ms. Pozuelos. 

In their inaugural year, the art program hosted the school’s first-ever art festival, showcasing their students' incredible talent and hard work, which has now become an annual tradition. Some art projects showcased included self-portraits in the style of Picasso’s cubism, crayon etching, exacto knife paper art, sculpture making, linoleum carving, and architecture models.

Art projects created by Ms. Pozuelos' students

Even if their students aren’t passionate about art, they want to demonstrate the transferable life skills, such as perseverance and strong attention to detail, they can take with them throughout their lives.

“Art is momentary. It’s something they can invest their time in, and they will see a return. That’s what we’re trying to convince students. Not everyone is going to love art, but they’ll learn valuable lessons. When you start something, you have to follow through. When you’re planning something, you have to be very meticulous and pay attention,” said Ms. Pozuelos.

In a short time, the two have created an enriching environment at KIPP Endeavor that promotes self-expression, nurtures creativity, and prepares students for success in the arts and beyond — an endeavor that has brought immense joy and pride into their lives. 

MOKA Preview

In anticipation of MOKA, we had the privilege of meeting with four talented MOKA students from KIPP Endeavor to preview their art pieces.

Joseph | 4th Grade 

Joseph was inspired to draw a lion and emphasized the lion through a 3D effect. Drawing from the kaleidoscope theme, he integrated shapes, patterns, and vibrant colors throughout his artwork.

Breyson | 5th Grade 

Breyson is an aspiring pilot who was inspired to paint a snapshot into his future. To capture the beauty of a sunset, he plans to blend a variety of colors to imitate the ever-changing colors you see in the sky.

Kazandra | 7th Grade 

Kazandra is passionate about raising awareness about the implications of AI-generated art. To highlight its limitations, she’s incorporating human features, like hands, teeth, and eyes, into her artwork.

Xochilt | 8th Grade 

Xochilt is inspired by the beauty of nature and everyday life. She is particularly drawn to landscape art, capturing fleeting moments, and deeply appreciates impressionism art. One of her favorite drawings is her rendition of the cottage from Snow White.

Vania | 8th Grade 

Vania is depicting an important social issue in her neighborhood. Using color, she’ll emphasize the contrast between the brightness of life (yellows) and the somber reality of her unhoused neighbors (greys). She hopes her art inspires empathy and awareness for those experiencing homelessness.

These students will join over 100 KIPPsters from 19 KIPP SoCal elementary and middle schools at this year’s MOKA! Don’t miss the opportunity to bid on a beautiful artwork to support our students’ whole-child education.