Q&A with junior Julissa Espinoza on her passion for ceramics, her journey to discovering it


Photo credit: Julissa Espinoza

Junior Julissa Espinoza’s ceramic platter won an honorable mention in the 2022 Annual High School Ceramics Exhibition at AMOCA. Espinoza said she is very passionate about the arts and displays this love through her involvement in the Eastern Star Gallery and ceramics classes. 

By Allegra Carney, Staff Reporter

From plastering vinyl sheets on the walls of the Eastern Star Gallery to winning art contests, junior Julissa Espinoza has done it all. She is a passionate ceramicist, is on the Eastern Star Gallery board and has taken ceramic classes at Archer throughout high school.

Espinoza has participated in a few roles as a part of the Eastern Star Gallery board. As a junior, she worked on the installation team. This position included looking at the dynamic between art pieces and choosing where to display each piece. Espinoza worked with Engineering and Design Coordinator Michael Carter to create a vinyl installation for the gallery using apps like Adobe Illustrator, and she later installed the vinyl sheets in the gallery.

Espinoza has won two awards: an honorable mention in the 2022 Annual High School Ceramics Exhibition at AMOCA and a merit for the Annual National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition in Sacramento, California.

The Oracle sat down with Espinoza to discuss where her passion started and how Archer has helped her on her journey. She reflects on where she first discovered her talent and what she thinks her future holds in the art world.

When did you first get involved in the arts at Archer? What triggered you to pursue this passion more? 

Julissa Espinoza [JE]: In eighth grade, I took one semester of ceramics … but it got cut short because of the pandemic, so I wasn’t able to have any art involvement at Archer during freshman year. Then, 10th grade — last year — was when I really discovered that [ceramics] is what I like. I feel like I underestimated the work that I was doing until Ms. Moon was like, ‘You should submit these pieces to an art contest or a ceramic art contest.’ I realized then that I should change my mentality.

What was the moment when you decided, ‘This is what I want to pursue,’ and dig deep in?

[JE]: Last year, I knew that this was something I’m super passionate about, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do ceramics in college, or even art in general. This year, when the topic of college is being brought up constantly, I was like, ‘Okay, what do I want to do?’ I don’t like history. I love English, but I don’t think I could pursue that. Sometimes I’m just like, ‘I’m good at something for a reason, so maybe I should just stick to that.’ So I’d say probably this year, I’d love to still feel the waters and keep doing ceramics while getting involved in other stuff.

Who surrounding you has supported your passion?

[JE]: Ms. Moon, of course, just the fact that she believed in me so much. She has been literally the biggest supporter of mine … And, of course, my mom. My mom was shocked when I was like, ‘Mom, I won an award.’ I feel like sometimes I don’t get my mom super involved, but she’s my biggest supporter. I tell her about art and she’s always talking, ‘Yeah, she won an award for art.’ My family is also super supportive. I don’t know if I’m going to an art college yet because I’m a junior, but I was a little bit nervous about telling my mom that I want to go to an art school, just because I didn’t know if that was going to be a disappointment for her … but my mom’s like, ‘Whatever you do, I’ll be here supporting you.’

How has Archer fostered your passion and helped you grow?

[JE]: I’d say the opportunities that are given to us here. When I signed up for ceramics, I was like, ‘This is so cool.’ If I’m given the opportunity to try something, of course, it’d be ceramics and also the Eastern Star Gallery. I think that’s one of the biggest resources, as it allows you to show your passion through art and get involved in the real world of art, instead of, ‘Oh, I made this drawing’ or, ‘I made this ceramic piece.’ It’s the real behind the scenes. And then, of course, just being introduced, even the award shows, or the award opportunities. I’d say Archer is super big on arts, which is super helpful.

If applicable, where do you see yourself in the future continuing this passion?

[JE]: I definitely see myself involved in art. I am still so indecisive about what kind of art. I love ceramics, but I don’t know if I could do that as a career. Career-wise though, marketing is something I like, and I’m super interested in social media. I’m taking a fashion design course over the summer in art school, so I feel like I’ll be able to see if I like fashion design, or I also want to tour other parts of the art school … I feel like I have a good sense of what I want to do, and I have a lot of opportunities in front of me.