Art and English students at El Camino College Compton Center were asked to explore themes of leadership for their participation in the 8th annual edition of Voices of Compton, a fine arts journal and competition that occurs each spring. More than 35 students were selected to have their literary compositions and artistic works published in the journal. The ECC Compton Center Humanities Division, Academic Affairs and Office of Student Life recognized the students’ exceptional academic and creative work with prizes in six categories.
Student-artist, Laura Blackwell, had two of her prize-winning paintings published in the journal, and both subjects are recognizable leaders with roots in the City of Compton. Blackwell’s second prize painting features a portrait of California State Senator Isadore Hall, III and her painting of Abel B. Sykes, Jr. received honorable mention. The oil painting of Sykes was featured in the “Educational Leaders” section of the journal; Sykes became the first African-American president of the former Compton Community College in 1970.
For Blackwell, who began painting in 2012, art is her true passion. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and is now reinventing herself after retiring from Northrup Grumman in 2009. She plans to continue taking art classes at ECC Compton Center and transfer to California State University, Long Beach to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts.
“Having come from a family of artists, I have always been artistically inclined but was never formally trained,” said Blackwell. “While living in Italy for a year, I was inspired by my surroundings and decided to take an art class at a private school in Florence. That experience made me who I am today.”
Blackwell credits her first art instructor at ECC Compton Center, Cleveland Palmer, for helping her improve on her basic art skills. “The techniques I learned in the Fundamentals of Drawing and Painting classes really set a very strong foundation and prepared me for other art classes I would take,” she said. “The art instructors here generously share technique and motivate students to run with their creativity.”