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NYC Student’s Take: Making Education in the Arts More Accessible

(This is a guest post by Vitória Lunardi de Castro, the founder of LaG Portfolio Mentors, a nonprofit program that provides free art portfolio preparation to aspiring students who want to attend New York City art high schools. Originally from Brazil, Vitoria immigrated to the United States at a young age and has since made her mark as an artist and advocate for accessible arts education. She is currently a student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.) 

When I was in middle school, I fell In love with art. Perhaps it was the messiness of watercolor, or the way paints swirled with each other, but something about art spoke to me. However, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to attend an art high-school that I was able to fully explore my creativity and develop my skills as an artist. 

But I could not have done this without my art teacher, who had helped me to create my portfolio. He volunteered his time outside of school hours and got together a group of kids, giving them lessons on how to assemble their portfolio. 

Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to have had a mentor guiding me through my portfolio making process. It was what eventually gave me the opportunity to attend a specialized art high school. At Laguardia, I have been able to explore various mediums like painting, ceramics, and printmaking. These resources are incredible, but I have come to appreciate that an education in the arts is much more than just that. In particular, the arts enable young teens to develop a distinct skill set that sets them apart from others, leading to opportunities that might have been previously beyond their reach. They can learn to problem solve and see the world from different perspectives—skills which are valuable for life.

But the application process for these schools can be daunting, specifically when it comes to the portfolio. While many of my classmates attended expensive prep classes, this is not a possibility for many. When preparing a portfolio becomes so inaccessible, it can make it challenging for many deserving students to showcase their talent and gain admission to art high schools.

That’s why I gathered a group of both talented and committed students and created LaG Portfolio Mentors—to bridge the gap and make art high schools more accessible to all. LaG Portfolio Mentors  believes that every young artist deserves the chance to pursue their passion and showcase their talent. While also gaining other skills that an art education can provide. By giving them the support they need, we hope to create a world where art is accessible to all.

If you are a middle-schooler with a burning passion for art, consider signing up for LaG Portfolio Mentors through our website. The program is completely free and designed to educate students on how to assemble a strong art portfolio. When you join our program, you will be matched with a dedicated mentor who will be available for you to contact throughout the program. Our online classes and expert guidance will help pave the way for a future filled with creativity and opportunity!

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