Art Mentoring & Education

Scholarships, Awards & College Acceptances!

Pictured (left to right): Dani Friend & Susan Zwirn with Scholarship Awardees Julissa, Jaya, Citlalli & Jennifer. Not pictured: Lorraine

Pictured (left to right): Dani Friend & Susan Zwirn with Scholarship Awardees Julissa, Jaya, Citlalli & Jennifer.
Not pictured: Lorraine

Inaugural Year of the Gregg Michael Zwirn Memorial Scholarship Fund

We were so pleased to welcome Susan Zwirn and Dani Friend to our annual Culminating Exhibition & Film Screening on May 18th. Susan and Dani are the mother and sister, respectively, of Gregg Zwirn, who passed away at the too-young age of 36, just as he planned to take his photography business to the next level. They established The Gregg Zwirn Memorial Scholarship Fund as a tribute to Gregg and, this year, gave their first scholarships to five of Venice Arts' college-bound Advanced StudiesPhotography students. His family and friends take comfort in knowing that his memory will always live on in his beautiful photographs and through this contribution to the next generation of photographers supported by Venice Arts.

If you are interested in contributing to our Creative Equity Scholarship Fund, or setting up a Fund in your name, or in honor of someone you love, please contact Kelly here.

Photo by Citlali, Age 18

Photo by Citlali, Age 18

Photo by Silvia, Age 21

Photo by Silvia, Age 21

Awards & Recognitions Just Keep Coming!

We are proud to share that our participants have won over 72 awards, film festival selections, and other recognitions this year, including a whopping 59 Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards (see winning image by Citlali, Age 18, top left), the prestigious Adobe Creativity Scholarship, and the selection of two films in the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Ten students also received full scholarships to the following programs: National Geographic Student Expeditions for 10-days studying street photography in New York City; California State Summer School for the Arts for a full-month’s arts residency; Grand Canyon Youth for a 10-day science rafting trip on the Grand Canyon; Idyllwild Arts for a two-week summer arts residency in the mountains; and a two-week art program through Otis College of Art & Design.     

Off to College!

Congratulations to the graduating seniors in our Advanced Studies’ programs who are going on to college—most with full scholarships—including to Berkeley, CalArts, UCLA, USC, UC Davis, Santa Monica Community College, and Glendale Community College. Onward!

Learn more about Creative Pathways, supporting young people on the road to college and career success, here.

Photo by Jaya, Age 18

Photo by Jaya, Age 18

Special guests offer fresh perspectives to youth media makers at Venice Arts!

Special thanks to the incredible artists, journalists, and activists who share their ideas and talents with our young people! Of late: journalist Herran Bekele and activist Torie Osborn, talking to our teen filmmakers about the teens' latest project, First Vote, and Liz Levenson, from Cactus Tree Entertainment, along with Beth Bigler, taking pitches from the intermediate film class!

Venice Arts Welcomes Theater Artist Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, Performing One Drop of Love

As part of our 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS, Venice Arts welcomed theater artist Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni for a special performance for our students and their families of her one-woman show One Drop of Love. The show explores “the intersections of race, class and gender in pursuit of truth, justice and LOVE.” A huge THANK YOU to Fanshen for this amazing afternoon for over 120 of our young artists and their families, which is sure to provide much inspiration for the year’s film and photo projects exploring identities. #truth #justice #love

This program is the first of five programs in our IDENTITIES series, in which five extraordinary artists, with their own connection to Venice Arts, and all of whom who explore multiple facets of identity in their work, will join us for special performances, screenings, and events. Designed to inspire and engage the teen artists at Venice Arts, most events are also open to the public.

Viceland + Venice Arts!

Venice Arts' filmmaking students were thrilled to receive several visits from Viceland's Development team this academic year. Our young filmmakers had the opportunity to practice "pitching" their idea for the year: capturing video of people on the Venice Pier and then creating multiple stories using the same footage. They were thrilled when the Viceland team returned to view the final pieces and give them notes.

Special thanks to Fred Grinstein, with Pulse Media, and Lauren Dolgen, Casey Meurer, and Kyle Silverstein with Viceland!

VA Alumna Named to Lucie Foundation $2500 Emerging Artist Scholarship Shortlist


Venice Arts' Alumna Angela Francis was recently named to the Lucie Foundation's $2500 Emerging Artist Scholarship Shortlist. The prestigious award is open to photographers worldwide and seeks to support emerging talent with vision and dynamic ideas that challenge and progress the art form of still photography into work that compels. We're so proud of Angela's continued accomplishments in the photographic field!

Since being named as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2014, Angela has continued her photographic journey, and has returned to Venice Arts this summer to intern and mentor other youth. About her current body of work, Angela writes:

"If you don’t know where you come from, you can’t know where you are going. Much of my childhood was spent at the foot of my Granny’s bed, listening to the stories of her past. Her photographs, along with adaptations of our family history, taught me the art of conversation, the importance of carrying on the tradition of storytelling. From glimpses of Granny’s personal history, I learned how my family landed on South Orange Drive. My current focus is on black womanhood and the elimination of the notion of a single story. The project I propose is a reflection on the multifaceted nature of black female identities. For decades, black women have taken on the lessons and responsibilities of their mothers: offering their bodies up as testimony, contesting silence and suppression. The black female identity is a social product, and her intricacies are often overlooked and minimized by her social location and the oppressions that come with being Black and female in this world....This is an extension of Granny’s story, as well as the people who have influenced me, within and outside of my craft."

VA Alumna Featured on Youth Media Reporter

Venice Arts' alumna Ashley Sanchez was recently featured on Youth Media Reporter, a peer-reviewed, professional journal for scholars, practitioners, and others who develop, organize, teach, study, and support youth media practices and programs. 

Reflecting on her relationship to photography, Ashley writes:

"I found out about Venice Arts in 10th grade. I found myself at Venice Arts taking a Photography class, and I became passionate about photography. I would carry my camera with me everywhere and get ideas while walking the streets. Looking into a camera, I see things in a different way. Before, I didn’t look at lighting or composition in my day-to-day life. Now, when I’m in the moment or simply see something, I automatically think this could be a good photo if this and this was changed. I see my life in photos because of photography."

Check out Dum Spiro Spero, the book she produced while at Venice Arts, at the Youth Media Reporter link above.