SAP in Spotlight: Adonis James (A.J.)

Hi, my name is A.J. and I’m 16 years old going into the 11th grade. I’ve been at BYA for about 5 weeks and am a part of the Mural Team this summer led by Brandon. During my time here I have learned how to get better at painting, and more than anything how to practice patience.

This summer, our Mural Team’s main project is to paint a mural for the Office of the Public Defender (OPD). I’ve realized that when multiple people are working on one big project, there are often a lot of opinions to consider as well as guidelines to follow from our client and supervisors…this means we all need to be able to just trust the process and have a lot of patience. I’m thankful for that lesson and am excited for the final product, for which I actually posed for a part of!


Most of my art is inspired by me wanting to do and try different/weird stuff that people don’t often think about.  I see a lot of rappers doing and trying different stuff, which is what makes them unique. I am inspired by that in my art and as a person because I see art as a way that I can express myself. This is why I like astronomy and space - it’s a mystery, we don’t know a lot about it, and it’s different from what is normally around us. One of my favorite paintings that I made this summer is of a car going into a portal to another universe. Another (pictured below) is of an alien in a space craft abducting a human from Earth.


The best thing about my time as a studio apprentice at BYA this summer, besides the art of course, is getting to find new friends in my peers and building lasting relationships with a lot of them. I felt that especially during the trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), where I got to know my peers in a different setting outside of the studio and experience the museum with them.

Going into my junior year and getting close to graduation, I want to focus my last few years on finding more of my interests, keeping my grades up, and finally going to a college where I can do what I love. And what I would love to do is study art, graphic design specifically, and get involved with cartoon drawing, gaming design, and animation. Growing up reading and watching Despicable Me, comic books on superheroes, and many anime shows, they do such a good job and I would love to learn how to create something like that myself. I specifically really loved Superman and how he was different as a mystery man from outer space with super powers. Like I said before, I love different and I love mystery. I don’t want to follow the trend of “what’s cool” in the moment. Instead I want to be remembered as someone who is constantly looking to be different, doing the unexpected, and being unpredictable.

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