Artist Jorge, 37

WHAT GOT YOU INTO ART?
Everything started in Juvenile Hall when I was arrested at age 16. I was not good at reading and writing, not even in Spanish, and I was lacking in education. I remember I had a stock of letters from my mom in Spanish and I felt so bad I couldn’t read them. I got past my pride and asked the staff to help me read them. She started crying, and I didn’t know how to react. I thought I did something wrong. She told me she would teach me to read and write, that I should have told her a long time ago, but I was prideful and I didn’t want people to know. I let my mom know, and she looked at me with a blank stare, like she thought I did know how to read and write in Spanish, at least. She just couldn’t believe it. She told me to do her a favor, though, “If you can draw me a happy face if you are happy or a sad face if you are sad and send me that in the mail. So I know you’re ok. That’s how it all started, by doing small things for her. My mom inspired me to draw and all I wanted to do is keep her happy. As long as it put a smile on her face, I was willing to do it. In the drawing with the mask baby I use crayons and mainly charcoal. I love charcoal – most of my drawings are in charcoal. I drew that as a message for people to get vaccinated, don’t be selfish, the next generation is going to be taking care of the aftermath. I understand people have their reasons, everybody has the right to do what they want, but I think it is the right thing to do.