Student View

Enduring Traditions

This award-winning artist explores the meaning of family 

Jada Cameron, 17, Gold Medal, Painting.

How does Jada use narrative in this painting?

Jada Cameron wants her paintings to bring people together. “We may come from different areas of the world and from different races,” says Jada, 17, a senior at Alexander W. Dreyfoos High School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, “but through art we can share ideas.”

What inspired this painting?

I wanted to make a painting about my two heritages. My father’s family is Ethiopian and my mother’s is Cherokee. I thought about the similarities these cultures share, and settled on hair braiding—which is important in both. I included my grandmother, mother, and sister to show how different generations can connect through tradition.


How did you create your painting?

First, I sketched my family and took pictures of them posing. I covered my white canvas with yellowish-brownish paint and lightly sketched the outlines of the scene. Finally, I added color and painted the details.


What was most challenging about this painting?

The canvas is 30 inches x 40 inches, which is the largest I have ever painted. I’m a perfectionist, so I labored to get everything just right. 


What did you want viewers to walk away with?

I wanted them to appreciate that this is a home like any other. It’s a setting that anyone can relate to, no matter what his or her heritage—and that realization can bring us together. 


Do you have any advice for aspiring artists like yourself?

Yes, don’t be afraid. Great artists take risks!

Jada won a Gold Medal for her painting in the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

To find out more about this program, visit artandwriting.org.

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