By Jessica Liu
For Ava Hall, art acts as a microcosm of her life: “It’s not as much about a story as just one image that happened in my day,” she explained. Hall’s highly personal passion for her art and drive to artistically improve is evident in her grasp of visual art forms from animation to comics.
First introduced to art in preschool with activities like fingerprinting and collages, Hall quickly immersed herself in visual arts. In her household, “everything was allowed and nurtured,” with many of her family members passionate about art forms from drawing to singing. Spurred by Hall’s avid childhood fascination with cartoons, her parents bought her a laptop with animation software, granting her the freedom to explore digital art.
Years later, Hall primarily creates cartoons due to their brevity and clarity. “I’m still trying to figure out my style, so I do different variations of drawings. Sometimes it’s more monotone sketches, and sometimes it’s fully planned out in detail,” Hall said. While she possesses the skill set to draw comics both digitally and using a pencil, Hall still gravitates toward creating digital art on the laptop she carries wherever she goes.
While the process of cartooning and animation can be time-consuming, Hall’s passion for her craft has only grown. For her, art provides an “escape into another world” that she can summon in stressful situations. “My favorite part about art is being able to express myself in the way I know best,” Hall explained.
When she finishes a piece, Hall often shares her art on Instagram. She first began to post her work in middle school to express herself and inspire others. However, as Hall’s finished products capture moments rooted in her own experiences, fear accompanied each post. “It’s scary to be vulnerable,” Hall acknowledged. However, she tries “to be open with others as I really love what I do.” While this openness to the judgment of strangers can be taxing, Hall finds comfort in the support of her parents and the knowledge that she can motivate other artists.
Hall’s all-encompassing love of art drives her admiration of artists spanning a variety of genres: she even draws from words for inspiration. One of Hall’s comics stems from the book "Born A Crime" by the biracial comedian Trevor Noah, who grew up feeling the pressure to choose between the Black and white community despite not identifying completely with either.
Like Noah, Hall has felt singled out because of her race: ”I was mostly the only Black kid in the classrooms full of white children.” While Hall’s art teachers attempted to give every child an equal opportunity to thrive, Hall still felt a sense of separation between her and her white peers. This isolation led to a sense of insecurity that drove Hall to prove that her artistic abilities matched those of her classmates.
However, as she grew older, Hall met a sea of new people with diverse backgrounds and identities. She could finally relate to her peers; “I was able to share my experiences with others and feel accepted,” Hall said. In art classes, the feeling of unity replaced separation as her classmates actively supported each other. At the summer camps Hall attended, she found a community in the diverse array of artists she encountered, her interactions with them motivating her to continue creating.
Due to the freedom art offers, Hall believes that her race is generally viewed positively in the arts: “In the art community, it’s encouraged to draw based on your own perspectives,” she said. However, Hall acknowledges the racial disparities present in media such as the tattoo competitions she watches on TV. Most tattooists and tattoo recipients are white, even though artists can tattoo equally complex designs on darker skin.
To combat racial inequity in the arts, Hall stresses that institutions must provide equal opportunities for artists of different identities to pursue their passions. She believes that teens can also contribute by forming groups at school where students feel welcome. Hall believes in the importance of these effort; without a diversity of voices, the art field “can feel single-minded and can’t speak to everybody that’s out there who’s listening or watching.”
In the future, Hall hopes to build up her drawing experience and eventually work for a large company such as Pixar or Cartoon Network. She encourages other artists to follow their passions and create nurturing environments: “Do what you love and show your own experience in all the varieties that there can be.”