Arantza Peña Popo, who was named the 2019 Doodle for Google winner, is a teenage visual artist who often captures the immigration experience.
Google honored the recent high school graduate from Lithonia, Georgia, by running her Google Doodle on August 13, 2019.
Jimmy Fallon unveiled Arantza Peña Popo as the winner of the national competition the night before on his television show. “When I grow up, I hope to care for my mom as much as she cared for me my entire life,” Arantza explained of the Google Doodle, which is called “Once you get it, give it back.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Peña Popo Recently Graduated From High School in Georgia
According to Google, Peña Popo is still in high school and hails from Georgia. She started drawing at age 3, according to Google, which indicated that her goal is to publish graphic novels and comics.
She graduated from Arabia Mountain High School, in DeKalb, Georgia, where she was valedictorian and plans to attend the University of Southern California, Google noted.
Arantza also enjoys skateboarding, Google reported.
2. The Google Doodle Is a Tribute to Arantza’s Mother, who Is Shown Carrying Her
According to Google, Arantza’s Doodle shows her mother carrying Arantza as a baby in a framed picture. Underneath that, you see an older Arantza, taking care of her mother as she grows older, in the circle of life.
Google noted that the framed picture mirrors one of her mother carrying her sister that Arantza saw in the family’s home.
Arantza told Google that she came up with the idea for the Google Doodle at the “last minute.”
“I looked at the photograph of my mother (the real version that inspired the drawing) and thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I reverse it?’ I wanted to focus more on a message of helping out my awesome mother, more than anything else,” she said.
3. Arantza’s Mom Called Her Someone Who ‘Lights Up Any Room’
The description accompanying the Google Doodle says that Arantza’s mom described the teen as a person who “lights up any room she is in.”
Arantza is hoping to help her mother travel and do other things she was never able to do, according to Google.
According to the Champion newspaper, Arantza will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and her school will receive help with its technology program as a result of her being declared the 2019 Doodle for Google winner.
“When I grow up, I hope to care for my mom as much as she cared for me my entire life. In my doodle, there is a framed picture of my mother carrying me as a baby─a real picture in my house─and below the picture is me, caring for her when she’s older in the future,” Arantza said, the newspaper reported.
4. Arantza Plans to Teach Students Arts Skills & Paint Murals in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods
“I’ve been a visual artist all my life,” Arantza said in a video for a 2019 Georgia United Scholarship. She said her work was displayed at the U.S. Capitol.
That artwork was part of the 2018 Congressional Arts Competition, for which she was named grand prize winner. A 2018 press release explained she used charcoal to create a piece that was a “cultural portrait of facial adornment from different cultures.” That piece was displayed in the Capitol for a year.
The teen has big plans. She said she wanted to establish a non-profit to create packaging design for minority businesses for free. “I intend to teach younger students arts skills through free after-school programs and enrichment camps,” she added.
In the video, she also says she wants to paint murals to help beautify disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities.
Asked by Google what her favorite thing to study in school was, Arantza replied, “I like to learn about literature that focuses on more diverse perspectives of our society.”
5. Arantza Came to the United States From Colombia as a Young Child
According to AJC.com, Arantza was born in Colombia but came to the United States as a young child.
The newspaper reported that her artwork often captures the immigrant experience. “I feel we have to be the vessel for other voices that can’t be heard,” she said.
She previously submitted artwork to a contest sponsored by the Latin American Association that was designed to focus on the immigrant experience.
“I try to display this minimalistic kind of artwork with these two houses and it kind of demonstrates how in both places where immigrants try to find some kind of refuge they seem to be rejected,” Arantza told Vox ATL about that artwork.
“For example,” she stated to the site, “a lot of immigrants and refugees, their places of origin, they have war, or maybe there’s a lot of criminals or gangs and through that destruction, you know, they are being rejected and pushed out of their homes. And when they try to find some kind of refuge here in the United States they also feel that kind of destruction and that violence put towards them in a place where they are trying to, you know, find peace.”