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the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Admirable art: Senior Zegarra-Amoroso hones photography passion

The obsession with art began at just 4 years old when now senior Alisia Zegarra-Amoroso made an at-home baking video of her mother in the kitchen. Now characterizing her main medium to be film photography, while still dappling in mixed mediums, Zegarra-Amoroso is no stranger to art. 

Having a YouTube channel and an Instagram at a young age, Zegarra-Amoroso documented everything. 

“When I was a kid, I took pictures of everything; I was super into it,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “I always wanted to do other things like marine biology. I would go through little phases, but I would always come back to photography and art. So when I was in middle school, I joined photography because [Inman Middle School] had a darkroom and I was like ‘why am I looking at everything else when I’ve been in love with photography and art my whole life?’”

Zegarra-Amoroso’s mom, Alison Amoroso, said that Zegarra-Amoroso has always had a knack for art. 

“We had a friend who was an art professor at Emory [University], who would give her an occasional class when she was about 7 or 8 [years old],” Amoroso said. “Then we lived in Guam for a year and she had a professional artist who would teach her art and she really excelled, the teacher said she did really well.”

At 18 years old, Zegarra-Amoroso’s work has won awards and appeared in a few galleries, making her successful, especially for her age. While Zegarra-Amoroso said she enjoys painting, photography has become her favorite art form to express herself. 

“The science of the camera is my favorite part about film photography,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “The way that the light comes in, controlling everything manually and then developing in the darkroom, it’s fun to be able to do whatever you want with the photo. By making it darker or lighter, double, triple expose stuff; you can do collages. It’s really cool how light and color can control everything.”

In order to connect with people in the art industry throughout Midtown, Zegarra-Amoroso said that art teacher John Brandhorst has been a useful outlet for her. 

“Mr. Brandhorst is a great branch to get involved with a lot of local artists; he makes that possible,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “I’ve been selling art at different places and a couple of local festivals; I’ve talked to people who are interested in buying my things.”

Brandhorst said that Zegarra-Amoroso’s drive to reach out to people made it easy for him to help.

“She’s an instigator and that’s exactly the kind of person professionals want to work with,” Brandhorst said. “The collaborative aspect is a major function of 21st-century art making. She has respect for other people’s creativity and that she’s not up for self-promotion. That makes it super easy for doors to open; I’m just saying ‘you guys should meet’ and then she takes off.”

Senior Nadia Creekmur, who has been friends with Zegarra-Amoroso since they were in kindergarten, said Zegarra-Amoroso has always been naturally artistic and that she has a specific style that makes her work appealing.

“Her photography is kind of edgy; it’s very interesting because she gets cool angles and stuff,” Creekmur said. “Her drawing is mixed media so she combines a lot of things. She’ll use things like staples in her artwork and put something really cool together. Her work is very unique, it’s not basic at all.”

Similarly, photography teacher Kimberly Wadsworth said Zegarra-Amoroso exhibits a style specific to her personality. 

“[Zegarra-Amoroso] has a style that continues throughout all her work,” Wadsworth said. “You look at her work and are like ‘Oh, that looks like Alisia’s work’. Her imagery has a sense of mystery and eeriness to it and usually there’s some deeper meaning that I might not always know looking at the piece, but she has some idea about why she was shooting it. She really plays around with color theory. I just love it because it’s not just cut and dry; [the pictures] are really beautiful.”

Brandhorst said he recognizes Zegarra-Amoroso’s meticulous planning in her artwork.

“She has reasons for everything that happens and it’s very symbolic,” Brandhorst said. “She understands, like a poet, why this word was placed here or there and she understands her work that way too. She’s always, always pushing.”

Wadsworth said she has observed Zegarra-Amoroso’s artwork progress throughout the four years she taught her.

“From the time that I met her, she was always very unique and an independent thinker, and she has her own ideas about her art, whether it be drawing or painting or photography,” Wadsworth said. “Over the years, she’s really developed her photographic eye and her artistic identity.”

Brandhorst said he noticed Zegarra-Amoroso grow in her style and ability as an artist.

“She’s very adventurous; she takes lots of risks,” Brandhorst said. “I find as a teacher, the best thing I can do is provide a space where [it is] safe to take risks. It’s my job to make sure that she or any artist has the necessary equipment, space, time and a sense that I won’t impose some kind of stupid judgment that may cause her to shut down. That’s the death of a teacher.”

Like Brandhorst, Wadsworth said that Zegarra-Amoroso is the artist she is because of her own doing, with minimal guidance. 

“I don’t [really] know how much I’ve done,” Wadsworth said. “I taught her how to use the darkroom and maybe how to use the camera better. As far as artistic vision, she just goes and does her own thing and you can’t tell her any different. She goes and makes it happen.”

Wadsworth said Zegarra-Amoroso’s independence with her artwork will take her far. 

“She hardly needs me, she hardly needs Brandhorst; she kind of does her own thing,” Wadsworth said. “She doesn’t seek a lot of input. She’ll just show me what she’s done after she’s done it.” 

Zegarra-Amoroso said she’s been able to blend her love of photography with her passion for politics through an interest in photojournalism and working with the DeKalb Dems

“I’m politically active as well, I work with the DeKalb Dems and a couple of nonprofits, and I think photos are what people grasp onto when they think of a subject,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “You know when you look at an article and then see the photo, it can really move a person, whether in color or black-and-white.”

Feeling inspired by political activism and how she can represent that through her art, Zegarra-Amoroso said she has moved to experiment with other forms of photography as well. 

“I’ve been getting into more street photography so I’ve been getting into more obscure portraits of women and stuff,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “I definitely want to do political science mixed with photography [in college]. I’ve been taking photos of the Women’s March in D.C., just trying to bring my camera [to] places to show what’s going on in cities, economically and the lack of equity we have going on, not just in Atlanta but in pretty much every city.”

In Atlanta, Zegarra-Amoroso started a photography project relating to sharing the stories of homeless people who live in tents.

“I want to [have the photos be in] black and white,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “I want to show the people in our city and it kind of speaks for a lot of other cities too. I was in California recently and took photos of lower-income people there. Homelessness is one of the biggest issues in our country and I think a lot of people, especially privileged people, don’t see that. I want to use photography to open people’s eyes to what’s going on.”

Wadsworth recognizes a quality in Zegarra-Amoroso’s artwork that is similar to a graduated student, who now lives in New York City as a professional and successful photographer. 

“[The graduated student] is just really blowing it out of the water; he’s a success,” Wadsworth said. “When I see [Zegarra-Amoroso’s] work now, it really kind of reminds me of [the graduated student’s] work, his early work, when he was in college and maybe high school too.” 

After high school, Zegarra-Amoroso plans on attending Georgia State University to study fine arts and to take political science classes. 

“Photography for me is about pushing myself and it’s nice when other people like my stuff,” Zegarra-Amoroso said. “Georgia State has a very competitive fine arts program and I like to mix photography and art so it’s kind of the perfect place to go.”

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About the Contributor
Shea Edwards
Shea Edwards, Editor in Chief
Shea Edwards is a senior and this is her fourth year writing for the Southerner. This year, she is editor in chief for the lifestyle section. Outside of working on the paper, she loves to play lacrosse both in and out of school, participates in several extracurriculars, and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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