New York Academy of Art Undergrad Summer Program

Hi, my name is Johnny Castillo.  I am a DACA recipient and a DREAMER with big dreams.

I was brought to the United States by my parents at the age of 5 or 6, and for a while, I struggled to assimilate into an entirely new culture. My passion for Art is what helped me throughout the process, but it was not until recently that I decided to pursue my passions fully. This was a decision I knew I was eventually going to have to make, but as an undocumented individual, it almost feels like I am in a constant tug-of-war. I constantly find myself pulled from one side to the other, deciding on whether to take a risk and go after my passions or to take the safe route because of the limitations placed on me as an illegal alien.

For years I struggled to make the decision, facing depression and hardships along the way. It was not until recently, when I created a series of artworks (image above), that I realized that my passion for the Arts is greater than the limitations I am faced with. My artwork is centered around the struggles that I have faced during my lifetime as an immigrant, and it made me realize that what I had created is a gift that is worth sharing with everyone else—especially for those who may be going through similar situations. I want my art to be an experience in which others can find solace and pieces of themselves that they thought were forgotten.

Creating this series freed me from so many emotional insecurities and struggles, and it reinforced my love for the Arts. I plan to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Drawing and Painting, along with a degree in Art Therapy. Combining both will allow me to create work that I am very passionate about, work that will give a voice to other undocumented people who may feel like they lack one. A BFA will give me the skills and tools to achieve my ideas, while a degree in Art Therapy will allow me to help others release emotional struggles and insecurities through art—something I constantly do with my personal work. With your help and generosity, I will have the ability to further my education in the Arts, and this Undergraduate program in the New York Academy of Arts this summer I believe is a step closer to my goals.

Tuition for the New York Academy of Art's Summer Undergraduate Program is a total of $4,100 for four weeks of instructions, but I am asking for an additional $1900, a total of $6000, to guarantee that I will have enough money to provide for myself while I am away from my current part-time job/internship. I am currently an intern at Kline Academy of Fine Arts, where I am blessed with the opportunity to be surrounded by artists and people who share my love for the Arts while simultaneously making just enough to provide for myself. The additional $1900 will allow me to be away from Kline Academy for a month without having to worry about having enough to provide for myself when I get back home from the undergraduate program.

Opportunities like these are very hard for me to apply for because as an undocumented individual, federal aid is not offered to me. I have to look for help elsewhere: through scholarships, grants, private donations, etc. I have a part-time job/internship that helps me provide for myself, but I don't make enough to fund opportunities like these. I'm transferring soon to a 4-year institution (CSU Long beach or LCAD), so the little that I do get to save from my part/time job is going towards that. Tuition can get very expensive for undocumented students like myself and studying in New York has always been a dream of mine, but my citizenship status has always prevented me from applying to schools in NY. My family has always struggled economically, as both of my parents are also undocumented, so I can't receive help from them either.

I am so very thankful for this platform and for this opportunity to share how passionate I am about the Arts. I will greatly appreciate any contributions. With your help, I will continue to express my love for the Arts. This past year alone I fulfilled several goals of mine.  I had the opportunity to show in an exhibition for a month and had one of my drawings, "tug of life", be part of the 2019 LGBT Heritage month calendar and cultural guide hosted by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and this is only the start. As I further my studies, I will continue to grow my legacy as an artist who is passionate about helping those in need!
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Johnny Castillo 
Los Angeles, CA
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