The Ofrenda Community Project, Victoria’s Reflection
Chronicles of a Free Spirit
A collaboration between the Museum & WriteGirl
Community voices within Museum exhibits bring added value, perspectives, and spirit. In partnership with WriteGirl, a creative writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity and critical thinking, the Community Engagement team at the Museum created The Ofrenda Community Project. Participants received at-home storytelling kits anchored in the ofrenda or altar located in the Becoming Los Angeles exhibition. WriteGirl youth selected an inspiration object in the ofrenda that they felt drawn to and created a memory map based on that object to explore connections and meaning in their personal experiences. They then crafted their own object to add to the ofrenda and developed a creative writing piece derived from the memory map activity.
Victoria’s inspiration piece was the vibrant ceramic sun, pictured below. This sun is centrally placed in the section of the ofrenda that connects to the Indigenous communities that first inhabited the Los Angeles area and still call it home today.
MEET VICTORIA, 16 YEARS OLD FROM NORTHRIDGE, CALIFORNIA
Victoria is a 16-year-old musician and writer. She fell in love with writing in elementary school when she was asked to describe the colors of the rainbow. Victoria received an honorable mention for her poem, “Queen of Everything,” in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Victoria plays multiple instruments and has written over 40 songs. (She even passed up her Quinceañera to get an electric guitar instead.) She is an advocate for increasing the number of BIWOC in the music industry. Victoria is honored to be a part of the WriteGirl family, enthusiastic to create more music, and strive to be her most free-spirited self.
Chronicles of a Free Spirit
There is a very particular type of freedom that comes with being a blissfully ignorant kid, around first grade – right before we are socialized to believe in all the evils of the world – that beautiful, dreamlike state we all yearn to return to.
When we’re children, we don’t care about the world. We simply do what brings us the most fleeting, momentary, simple pleasures, and carry on with our day. We don’t stress about what our face or hair or bodies look like. We’re just there to have the most fun we possibly can, and explore the unknown with a ferocious passion to discover.
I was like that once. We all were.
The world has a cruel way of picking us apart for the most arbitrary things. Whether it be a venomous comment from an individual, ridiculously unattainable and wildly Eurocentric beauty standards, or even familial pressures – we have all felt the detrimental sting of life’s serpentine bite before.
Which is why I was surprised to hear the kindest comment from one of my friends in sixth grade. My friends and I were all sitting in the corner of the classroom on a particularly snowy day in Nevada when we decided to go through our contacts on our phones together – and yes, I am aware of how wild that sentence is. Decorated delicately with blushing hearts and bright yellow smileys, I laughed as we shared what emoticons were next to the names on everyones’ phones.
It was then that I noticed that my name on my friend Cameryn’s phone was followed by a little cloud. My first instinct was, Oh. She’s calling me an airhead.
Of course, I would never say that to her, so I asked her what it meant. To this day, I remember sitting there – an insecure, pudgy little girl with horrible self-esteem – as Cameryn looked me in the eye and said, “Well, I’ve just always seen you as a free spirit.”
Just like that, so matter-of-factly, as if it was incredibly obvious and I had been missing something the entire time.
That moment struck me, and I never told her that. Because even though it was probably one of the smallest, most insignificant interactions she’s had, it was one of the most essential for me. I think I realized for the first time in a long time that I’m not as small as I think I am. Being told you’re a free spirit has a certain chaotic elegance to it. I felt like I had been granted a piece of the puzzle I didn’t even know existed.
At that point in my life, I had been verbally and physically bullied so many times that my spirit felt cracked. I had all these newfound insecurities I am still struggling with today, whose effects will definitely ripple for a while. Even though after that interaction I had my periods of desperately trying to suppress my bubbly, energetic nature, which I had confused to be annoying and far too ostentatious, I realize that when it's all said and done, that is who I am.
I am loud. I am kind. I am dramatic. I am vehemently passionate about my art. And I do what I want when I want. I am a free spirit.
Even in my darkest times, that never truly went away, and I hope it never does. I just needed some reminding.
Victoria documents the making of her ofrenda object
The chaos that comes with creating!
I tried to mix paint to make my skin tone -- but I ended up just using an old foundation!
Close up: the beginning stages of my mini me!
Assembling my hair and stubby little legs (plus a red cube that never got used!).
Assembling the last bits of my cloud! Finishing touches :]
The final product! My lovely little cloud is decorated in a blossoming baby tree, a book, a guitar and keyboard, a little Pollo A La Brasa (my favorite childhood food), a Peruvian doll, and a microphone.
The final product! My lovely little cloud is decorated in a blossoming baby tree, a book, a guitar and keyboard, a little Pollo A La Brasa (my favorite childhood food), a Peruvian doll, and a microphone. These items all represent aspects of my life that fundamentally make me who I am.
These items represent aspects of my life that fundamentally make me who I am.
The neighborhood cat posing with my project! Her name is Buddy :]
1 of 1