By Nyame-Kye Kondo, Special to the AFRO

A new generation of phenomenal artists is on the rise, and they are utilizing their talents to bring about change. One such artist is D.M.V. native, Skylar Ogunshakin.

A middle school student at School Without Walls (Francis Stevens Campus), Skylar has used her artistry to raise awareness, to compete and to beautify. Her most recent undertaking, “Doodle 4 Google,” has been so well received that she won the D.C. title for the contest. Ever an advocate for Black youth, the AFRO, was able to catch up with Skylar and interview the art aficionado as she winds down the school year, while reveling in her accomplishment.  

Doodle for Google, Washington D.C. 2019: Skylar Ogunshakin won the D.C. “Doodle 4 Google,” competition, and is in the running for the national title. (Courtesy Photo)

AFRO: Thank you for agreeing to give a few words Skylar. The AFRO is the oldest and longest-running Black paper in this area, and we believe in not only nurturing the community through thought based content, but also giving creative youth like yourself a platform. We are very impressed with your recent accomplishment and would like to ask you a few questions about your creative process and “Doodle 4 Google.”  

For those who are unfamiliar with the contest “Doodle 4 Google” what is it, and why did you participate?

SO: The “Doodle 4 Google” is a competition represented by Google where children can show their creativity and create a Google doodle. The child who is the winner gets there doodle featured on the Google homepage. I wanted to participate in the “Doodle 4 Google,” because my art teacher Ms.Frazier encouraged me to.

Skylar Ogunshakin winner of the D.C. “Doodle 4 Google,” competition, with her award-winning doodle, “Skylar’s World, Blue Skies and Sunshine.” (Courtesy Photo)

AFRO:  What is the title of your work, and what does it depict?

SO: The title of my doodle is called, “Skylar’s World, Blue Skies and Sunshine,” which basically means a happy bright sunny day in a peaceful world. I actually got my title from when I took a trip to New Orleans and our Uber driver was telling us about the history and the culture of New Orleans and he said, today will be “Blue Skies and Sunshine.” So I decided to call my title,”Skylar’s world, Blue Skies and Sunshine.” I also found out it comes from Mama Odie from the movie, “The Princess and the Frog.”

AFRO: How has your artistry enabled you to express yourself?

SO: My artistry enables me to express myself because it makes me want me to share my art with other people.

AFRO: What inspired you to create your Doodle?

SO: My mom and art teacher inspired me to create the doodle because they believed in me. They also helped me out and gave me feedback on how I can make my doodle better. The theme was, “What I hope for,” so for the doodle I wrote down those things on a separate piece of paper like traveling the world, a good education, peace and happiness. I also thought about the importance of global thinkers and innovators who can help solve problems like gun violence.

AFRO:  Why do you think art education is important for all children?

SO: People may always say this and they may always hear this, but art education is important for all children because it allows them to express themselves and be creative. Art can be so many different things, but it does the same thing for all children, it allows them to share their talents with the world and show who they really are.

AFRO: What inspires you to express yourself through art?

SO: What inspires me to express myself through art are different artists. I don’t have a favorite one, but I just see pictures of how artists use their creativity which inspires me. People around me also inspire me because they support me and when they support me it makes me want to learn more about art.

AFRO: What do you want the people to feel when they see your artwork? Inspired, motivated, etc…

SO: I want them to know that it’s something I’m very passionate about and it’s something that I really love to do. I also take my time with my art and use different techniques and materials to make my art in my own style.

AFRO: Wonderful! Thank you Skylar for allowing is to interview you, and thank you for your thought provoking artistry. Best of luck!

SO: Thank you for the opportunity