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"Why Art?" Stories

We are excited to be launching a new initiative to help us further our cause, "Why Art?" Stories.  As it is stated in our mission statement it is our sole purpose to ensure that all children have access to learn in, with and through the arts. Although we provide open source research, literacy residencies, leadership training, workshops and so much more that supports the growth of arts education it is crucial for us to bring another aspect to those we serve and those we are trying to reach. "Why Art?" Stories is a initiative that features artist, their art, and their stories relating to the importance of the arts in their lives. The arts are essential for the growth and development of children and our hope is that this new initiative will be living proof of the importance of the arts in the lives of people.

 Lucas Joel Macauley  


Lucas is an Artist, Model, Actor and Musician from Canada. He has a diploma in digital sound engineering/ pro tools engineering and is currently working on his Masters of Arts Program through the University of Regina. His hobbies and passions include, but are not limited to; Painting, drawing, tatooing and various other forms of the arts. For more on Lucas and his art work visit his instagram page @lucas_the_

website: Lucas' Art

My name is Lucas I am a recovering addict, formerly homeless, 36 year old man . I am an artist now above everything, over the past 10 years My addiction took me down a road of destruction I didn't know possible. I lost my business, was separated from my daughters, and attempted to take my own life in order to stop the pain that drugs couldn't fix. I although had one point of hope , my art.  I would paint anything I could find , I would trade paintings to get a shower or a place to sleep or something to eat. My art helped me look past current circumstances, and gave me hope; that there could be an amazing sober life if I worked for it . Hearing people's response to my work now makes me feel like I may be able to not only help my self but help others . Living on the street is something affecting so many amazing people and taking their lives . I want to reverse the impact homelessness is having on all of us by using my art to speak out and create conversations that we would usually not like or feel comfortable having.

Art became not only an outlet for me, it also became a way for me to connect with people going through similar situations. Connection is the key to being Sober. I want to spread this message and I want to be apart of the solution to fixing this broken part of society. It's amazing how art can draw the eyes of people to look at things they generally try to hide their eyes from . My story Is one of many . I think it's important to share it, so others feel the strength to come forward and share their stories as well.

Once there (rehab), his passion for painting came alive and was used to express all the torment addiction had caused him, and he created over 100 pieces in 76 days.

 Why Art? Card: Art gives students a voice in learning and telling their stories!!!

 Sheinina Raj

indian woman
navajo woman
mexican woman

 Sheinina Raj is half Indian and half English but also identifies as Canadian. She attended the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Raj's professional career began in Toranto when she was asked to photograph the 1998 Candian Hip Hop scene for Access Music Magazine.  Raj continues her passion for arts and culture with the touring exhibition Intercultural, a cultural movement that unifies humanity for peace. The immersive vision and sound art experience features a quadrophonic collaboration by Nelly Furtado. Her collection "Intercultural" has been displayed in Toronto (2016) and in New York (2017) and Malaysia (2018). Raj will also exhibit Intercultural with the Lois Lambert Gallery proceeded by the UN Headquarters in Geneva 2021. Sheinina Raj has recieved critical acclaim from various entities such as: Miami Herald, Miami New Times, Huffington Post, Argonaut News and Fiji Sun and has recieved various awards such as the 2018 International Photography Awards and the Tokyo International Foto Gold Award.

 The touring art collection "Intercultural" is inspired by a purpose for each exhibition to serve as an immersive art experience that unites humanity for a peaceful coexistence worldwide. In honor of cultural diversity, “Intercultural” reflects just how different yet the same we are. Adorned in the worldly traditional regalia of Fiji, India, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Morocco, Eritrea, Jordan, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Sicily, Greece, Israel, Palestine, Armenia, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Native America, Hawaii, Guatemala, First Nations Inuit  and North America, the collection self-portraiture unifies authentic heritage. As cultures around the world seek common ground Intercultural raises awareness to the misinterpretation of the nationalities living in our modern day societies, enlightens cultural ideologies while initiating a common respect for all humanity and ultimately a peaceful coexistence.

During this unprecedented time of the Covid19 Pandemic I have found resolve in quantifying my talent, profession, personal passion in Intercultural Worldwide Learning. I recently launched the first lesson with LAUSD Nick Melvoin  before creating a dedicated lesson for the Intercultural Worldwide Learning website. For more on Raj and her recent venture with Intercultural Worldwide Learning check out the links below! 

In 1891 during the British Raj era my great-great grandmother, a girl of six years old played on the beach in Goa, India. A British soldier approached her and offered candy, which she accepted as a kind gesture. He then offered her more although expressed that she must follow him as there was a stash of candy to be had on his ship. Lured by the sweetness, innocently she followed him. Once on board the soldier led her into a shipping crate where he sealed the entrance and trapped her. She lived in this crate for a month sailing along the oceanic route from the west coast of India to the Island of Fiji. Anchored in the Port of Lautoka she was taken to a sugar cane field where she continued life as a slave. There she met my great great-grandfather, a nine year old boy also a child slave who had been kidnapped from India. 

Generations had passed on the colonized island of Fiji when in 1963 my father, a young boy and grandmother were officially recognized as British subjects when they boarded the Southern Cross bound for Great Britain. Landing at the infamous London Docks they were not welcomed by all in the motherland. As you may imagine racism was prevalent in London during this period. My father was beaten often by skinheads who disapproved of his settlement. Despite a lineage of deplorable relation my father fell in love with an English woman. Therein lay the genes that spawned my life in the country known to modern man as the United Kingdom. My name is Sheinina Lolita Raj, a person who was born from distinctively diverse ancestors, culturally, religiously, linguistically and physically.  

I will always be grateful for my Art Education as I feel it very well saved my life, my education and my career as a professional artist. Growing up I faced many challenging experiences. I struggled with coping with abuse, racism, displacement, identity, confidence and the importance of education.Art Education has served as a trustworthy program that was an entry point leading me to learn about history, geography, science, English and math. The practice of Art served as an escape as I dived into a safe world where my imagination was free to express and heal. 

I am Canadian and consider myself fortunate to have Art Education valued and prioritized within a complete education curriculum. If it were not for my art education in both middle and high school I would not have gone on to study at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. I would not have a BA. I would not be a critically acclaimed and award winning artist that has represented Canada, UK and Fiji around the world with my humanitarian art exhibition Intercultural.

Why Art? Card: Art develops Empathy, Kindness and Cross-Cultural understanding!!!

Janice Aponte


Janice Aponte is a visual artist from Chicago Illinois . In 2017 after a hurricane hit Janice's native island, Puerto Rico, this event led her to  the foundation of Arte al Rescate alongside her dearest friend Erica Sanchez. Arte al Rescate is a non for profit 501C3 that serves communities in Puerto Rico through the arts. AAR provides art supplies and school materials to those in need. In addition, the network of artists in Puerto Rico volunteer their time instructing art workshops to schools and shelters in affected communities as a means of giving hope and emotional support. With the help of artists worldwide, their organization continues to thrive as they create awareness and raise funds to bridge art and humanity in the island and the mainland.

My creations are pieces of me, perhaps a memory, a moment in time that impacted my life and created an impression that I translate onto a canvas.  It is a means of expression in my times of challenges and successes that has allowed me to connect to people all over the world.

Website: AponteART
Instagram: @aponteart
Facebook: @APONTEART2

I began my creative journey at the age of 8, while living in New York City.  I instinctively drew and sketched using my creative process for mere enjoyment. Growing up, I relocated several times between Puerto Rico and New York City. As a result, I faced the challenges of readjusting to my environment, new friends and cultural values. Although I always had my parents' unconditional love, the frequent change of environment created a sense of instability. Despite this, there was one thing that was constant in my life…my love and intuition for art. I self-taught as a painter drawing inspiration from my travels and influential artists such as Picasso, Monet, Kahlo and others. Throughout the years, with much dedication, I developed my own unique style, ultimately finding my voice. 

Working from an industrial studio space has inspired me to paint at a larger scale which I never did at my home studio. In the past few years abstract art has also piqued my interest. This curiosity led to a beautiful series of topographical and nature inspired abstract art pieces. Other works explore expressionism and realism in the forms of femininity, love, and my cultural roots.  My creative process includes a variety of tools to achieve texture in my paintings. Lately, I have been using mostly my bare fingers and the palm of my hands. Using my hands creates a deeper connection to my work.  Oil paint is my medium of preference however, I also love working with pastels, acrylics and using mixed media techniques.  Other ways that I channel my creative thinking is in the form of fashion and jewelry design, carrying my own label AponteART.

At this moment, art serves as an anchor in my life, giving me a sense of empowerment and purpose.  As we face a global pandemic and social challenges, I feel extremely grateful that I can paint to navigate through my emotions.  I also realize that it is during these times that people need more of the visual arts. I have been the busiest during quarantine, creating more art than ever. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I share my work and it takes others to a happy place. Since the pandemic, my artist friend and business partner, Patricia “Lady P” Perez and I have transitioned our painting workshops to virtual. It provides the opportunity for families to access a creative outlet from the comfort of their home.

Why Art? Card: Art leads to civic engagement and lifelong arts participation!!!

Sarah Bricke


Sarah Bricke is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in San Diego, California. She received her BA in Visual Arts from California State University, San Marcos. The representation of the female icon is a recurring theme in her work; she seeks to reinterpret those icons through a feminist lense. Her process is driven by intensive research and often utilizes fragmentary pieces or remains that can be taken apart and reconstructed, transferred into different forms, or become part of new cycles. Her work has encompassed painting, photography, sculpture and object making, bookmaking, as well as muralism and other forms of street art and spatial interventions.

Through my work I author a story that is a holistic view of cycles and patterns – the journey from brokenness to wholeness, returning to broken again, and back to whole once more, is one that continues to obsess and compel me. I am fascinated by the female story and by the ways it is both echoed and obscured by the historical and cultural settings that surround it.

Instagram: @sarahbricke
Facebook: Sarah Bricke
Website: Sarah's Website

I am a multidisciplinary artist who examines the representation of the female icon in myth, fairy tale
and legend. I seek to reclaim the inherent power of those old beliefs; to subvert contemporary
representations that relegate the feminine solely to the weak or the seductive. Utilizing an
invented personal iconography of symbols that reappear in different forms throughout my body
of work, I work in an autobiographical sense, however, it’s equally important to me to make
work that is relevant to others and references the larger culture as well. My work is more about
asking questions and ambiguity, and less about giving answers or absolutes. Art is how I tell my
story, but that’s not all it’s about – it’s a dialogue that I open with others, a long conversation
between myself, the work, and the viewer.

I believe that art is fundamentally a communicative tool. Art in all its forms is part of our shared
inheritance as human beings. Creating representational images and objects, composing music
and making instruments, are skills that predate writing. The human desire to understand the
world around us through art making is a fundamental part of our evolutionary process. And in
today’s world, making art available to others, creating greater access to the arts and insisting that
more voices are heard, more people are represented, and the voices of more artists are amplified,
is an act of subversion as well. Art has the power to record and interpret history as it happens,
and to act as a catalyst for change.

Why Art? Cards: Art cultivates tomorrows leaders!!!