Young art talent draws upon inspiration to put pencil to paper

Salvador Perez’s drawing of Fred Jealous.


After taking out his box of pencils and sketchbook, Salvador Perez added the finishing touches on his drawing: an old man holding a red-and-white rose, with a glowing ring in the background, commemorating an activist for the civil rights movement.

The CHS junior completed the piece as a part of a project with the Youth Arts Collective, an organization in Monterey that art students can come to Monday through Saturday to practice their skills and gain exposure to different art forms. Most of the workers at YAC are activists, so they frequently like to communicate with youth to get their messages out, according to Perez.

In addition to drawing exquisite pencil drawings, the cross-country runner is also known for his series of whiteboard marker cartoons on Brent Silva’s whiteboard in Room 20. Often comedic, the drawings portray events in Perez’s AP World History class in a satirical way, such as Silva giving his students a test the week after break or Silva sitting at his desk with the caption “Welcome to Loozaville.”

“I wanted people to look up at the board and smile or laugh,” Perez says. “It also allowed me to have a closer connection with Mr. Silva.”

Silva appreciates Perez’s work ethic both in class and in his cartoons, eventually awarding him Student of the Year.

“[Salvador] has a great personality,” Silva says. “[He is] always willing to work with students that needed help.”

Perez’s latest project at YAC involved interviewing an activist and drawing a portrait of the activist based on the interview. Perez interviewed Fred Jealous, an activist who advocated for the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War. Jealous also met Malcolm X.

The junior put a lot of thought into the coloration and symbolism in the piece.

“One of the questions I asked him was, ‘What [is your] favorite color?’” Perez notes. “Gold, black, blue, and green. That’s what I put in the drawing.”

Jealous is shown wearing a blue shirt and a green jacket, akin to what he wore to Perez’s interview. The black, gold and green-colored ring in the background of the drawing represents important stages in Jealous’ life, according to Perez.

“The main aspect of the drawing is his hand,” Perez says. “It represents connection.”

The artist says the red-and-white rose in Jealous’ hands represents unity, and the juxtaposition of the rose being in Jealous’ hands symbolizes making unifying connections to create a brighter future.

Currently enrolled in AP 2D-Drawing at CHS, Perez has developed a close relationship with his art teacher Steven Russell. During Perez’s sophomore year at CHS, Russell promoted Perez to AP Art from Art 2/3. Although AP 2D is taught by Holly Lederle, Perez maintains a close relationship with Russell by frequently visiting the art room to work on his drawings.

“He was always so positive and amiable with myself and his classmates,” Russell says.

The junior started making art when he was young. He would copy his brother’s work, until his brother got mad at him because Salvador’s was better.

More than an artist alone, Salvador Perez also works four days a week at Lucky for a total of about 18 hours every week.