Creativity Scholars Bring Clarity to Social Change

Last month we announced the 2015 Adobe Creativity Scholars, a group of 25 who will enter their post-secondary education and creative pursuits in the Fall. These talented youth come from varied regions, backgrounds, and artistic media.

The scholars we profiled last week enlightened us with new perspective, and we learned about self-acceptance from another group. Today we introduce a group of creativity scholars who explore the theme of clarity as it relates to social issues.

Effective social change begins by understanding the current reality. These scholars’ works crystallize this understanding, offering a clear starting point from which to create change. Using varied media, the scholars showcase the reality faced by LGBTQ youth and by communities experiencing pervasive, constant surveillance. They reflect on how our thinking contributes to or detracts from healthy communities. They practice self-discipline and self-determination to ignite conversations that evolve our understanding and activate other change agents to participate in the transformation of our world.


Victor Portillo GarciaVictor Portillo Garcia

Soyapango, El Salvador

Victor’s poetic video recital of Claribel Alegria’s Adaptaciones vividly projects ordinary images onto an unusual and curious screen – a desk laid on its side. His contemplative 3-minute video subtly juxtaposes a stove’s fixed stance and an armoire overcome by spider webs with the movement of the sea, bonfires and clover. This comparison emphasizes the limitations of outdated thinking and practices – offering an invitation to a fresh, evolved point of view. At age 16, Victor wishes to leverage his talents “to create a Higher Education Institute in El Salvador – a hotbed for new musicians, filmmakers, painters and writers providing the opportunities that I never had.”


Lam-2Rachel Lam

Seattle, Washington, USA

Rachel, age 18, produced a series of stories for the youth radio program, RadioActive entitled Seattle Catholic Students Form Underground Clubs for LGBTQ Youth. Rachel and two other reporters tell the story of students’ struggle to form a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at their Catholic girls’ high school. Rachel and her allies illuminate the opposition students experience for simply wanting a safe space to support each other during this formative and often difficult time in their lives. Rachel’s involvement was fueled by the realization that GSAs reduce the risk of teenage suicide for youth of all sexual orientations – but many Catholic schools do not allow them: “RadioActive helped me reconnect with myself, create a new community, and understand the effect that media has on society.”


Mahmoud SadekMahmoud Sadek

Giza, Egypt

Mahmoud’s video Lost Time, presents the importance of devotion and focus to create positive social and communal changes. Twenty year-old Mahmoud emphasizes the importance of self-discipline and hard work to transform communities especially those in the developing world. Reflecting on producing his video, Mahmoud says, “I can now see my goal clearly…I am a young man who has technical skills and a personal purpose to make the world a better place using the influence of technology and art.”


Ayah BenbernaAyah Benberna

London, United Kingdom

Ayah’s video Who’s Watching You..? GCHQ sheds light on the practice of constant camera and cell phone surveillance in the United Kingdom. She puts this practice in context by filming an actor approaching strangers to ask them if he can view the photos and contacts on their cell phones. Showing the strangers’ reactions to the jarring request, eighteen year-old Ayah reveals the fine line between the need to gather information to protect us and the violation of our privacy. She urges us to explore the increasing loss of our right to privacy by posing the question: “we all like to watch people, but do we like to be watched?”


Angela RoweAngela Rowe

New York City, New York, USA

Angela’s thematic music video Clarity conveys how today’s complex teen experience is compounded by stereotypes imposed by society. Accomplished and serving as a role-model for other youth, 17 year-old Angela contradicts these stereotypes and offers lucidity through her lyrics: seeing “that face that’s reflected in the mirror is someone unfamiliar,” she affirms her quest to define herself on her own terms, singing “I know it’s going to be hard but it’s worth the climb.” Angela plans on creating work that helps spark conversation within communities, encouraging unity rather than separation among races, and discussing barriers that polarize our society.


Salim ShekhSalim Shekh

Kolkata, India

In his video Pronaam, 17 year-old Salim uses the metaphor of a paper doll chain to illustrate the forming of connections in society. He advocates for a self-elevating community where each person contributes to their locality’s fundamental needs – access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and preventative health education. With determination Salim says, “I have chosen to study law because I believe that it is the right of every individual to know his/her basic fundamental rights. I want to illuminate these rights so that people can understand where they are lacking and what they are entitled to.”


Ximena GabilondoXimena Gabilondo

Mexico City, Mexico

Whether stationary or in motion, in heels or high-tops, bare or dirty, on a bike or on the edge of a bridge, feet are storytellers as distinctly seen in Ximena’s video Someone Else’s Shoes. Eighteen year old Ximena creates many moods from somber to whimsical showing that we cannot imagine what goes on in someone else’s mind until we walk in their shoes. She shows us that when we develop an understanding of others, we become more compassionate. Ximena observes, “Art makes people more sensitive, and by being more sensitive towards others, I think my country and the world can be a better place.”


Patricia Cogley is program manager, Adobe Youth Voices.