Latinx artists at BHS use art to explore identity and expression

Yatxiri Campusano Huizar is a part of Berkeley High School’s community of writers. Her work expertly incorporates aspects of her culture alongside imagery and emotion that command change.


Yatxiri Campusano Huizar is a part of Berkeley High School’s community of writers. Her work expertly incorporates aspects of her culture alongside imagery and emotion that command change. After taking a creative writing class in 7th grade, Campusano Huizar was exposed to a new style of writing: poetry. “I didn’t know you can rhyme,” she said. “I didn’t know you could do all this type of stuff, and also give a really big impact with your writing.” She quickly fell in love with poetry as a way to express her own struggles, issues impacting her community, and the overlap between the two. 

Throughout her poem, “Ya es Tiempo,” Campusano Huizar blends English and Spanish together. While the poem was originally titled “It is Time,” she made the decision to change part of the poem into Spanish. She explained that despite being unsure about this choice, since her audience may not speak Spanish, she ultimately decided to take ownership of her work. “It is my piece,” stated Campusano Huizar. “I can do whatever I want, so I switched it to ‘Ya es Tiempo’ because I felt as if it was more impactful.”

Through poetry, Campusano Huizar uses her own stories to tell the similar stories of millions. She further discussed “Ya es Tiempo,” stating that “I would say that it really talks about my family and my issues, but also talks about people’s issues. It doesn’t even have to be a Latine person, it can be just immigrant families, immigrant children, or anyone that can resonate to it.” She explained that this poem highlights issues surrounding immigration laws, and the impact that they have on her family. “It’s time for a change, you know? It’s time for it to stop happening. It’s time for families to reunite with each other and not feel this type of pain everyday.” 

Senior Amaya Dorman Mackenzie uses painting to reclaim her cultural heritage. She explained that, despite not having grown up with Latinx culture, she has always been curious about it, and chose to explore it further through her art.

Dorman Mackenzie has felt hesitant to include herself in Latinx spaces, as she worries that her limited knowledge of the culture might stand in her way. “I guess there’s just a set idea of what Latina is,” she noted. The potential to help others with similar experiences has inspired her to share her stories. “My goal is probably to have a validating effect on people, especially those who don’t feel like they quite fit,” she said. Dorman Mackenzie also plans to do research surrounding Latinx art and integrate it into her own works.

Dorman Mackenzie’s art helps her understand her identity in other ways too, including her struggle with mental health. “A lot of my art has been about exploring a lot of my own feelings and trying to express them in a way that is beautiful.” She often depicts herself in her artwork, with detail and symbolism that enhance the emotion in her pieces.

Junior Lucia Rodriguez Gerstein explores a variety of mediums in her art. She works with clay, paint, and wire to create organic abstractions of the people, creatures, and patterns around her. When explaining her creative process, Rodriguez Gerstein noted that it’s more about expressing herself in the moment than forcing a specific outcome. “I kind of just sit down and make stuff. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t.”

As she explores mythology this year, Rodriguez Gerstein has found herself looking to Latinx art for inspiration. “I’m focusing on stuff from the Aztecs and Mayans, looking at all of their deities and gods and how they relate to nature.” Rodriguez Gerstein plans to work with more three-dimensional media to bring her art to the next level.