Art conveys a message, a meaning, an emotion — and, for one Pomona High School student, it’s her passion.
When she was around 13, Blythe Crowe heard about English stencil-artist, Banksy, and was inspired to pursue the skill.
“It’s so simple, yet you can send a powerful message,” Crowe said, “It’s just a bunch of shapes creating a picture.”
Starting with Sharpie permanent markers, Crowe began teaching herself the art of stencil art, and now, four years later, she is on her way to becoming one of the leading stencil artists for her age in the country.
“She has a true passion,” said Kim Anderson, Crowe’s art teacher at Pomona High School, “She loves talking to other people about her art, their art, and building a sense of community through art.”
At 17, Crowe, known as the artist AWOL, has accomplished more in the stencil art world than artists double her age and experience. This year, she was one of 50 finalists in competition for the World Stencil Art Prize, and had one of her pieces titled, “If they won’t listen ... knock a little harder,” on display in the Stencil Art Prize Exhibition at the Chrissie Cotter Gallery in Camperdown, Sydney.
She didn’t stop there. Inspired by fellow artists, Crowe decided to apply for a chance to paint a mural at the Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the United States’ premier art shows — and she got in.
“The history and the people who paint there, Warhol, Pollock, not just anyone can go and paint there. It’s really awesome to say you painted where they painted,” Crowe said.
For the show, Crowe will paint a 5-by-5 foot humanitarian-themed mural featuring a greyscale image of a U.S. soldier giving water to an Afghan refugee against an orange background.
“The layers, her sense of dimension and space and the emotion her subjects capture,” Anderson said, “there is always a story.”
Crowe is headed to Miami Nov. 9 to paint her mural, but her journey doesn’t end there.
“It’s an adventure, such a wonderful adventure,” said Blythe’s mother, Lana Crowe, “She’s a go-getter and goes after what she wants — she makes it happen.”
After school, Crowe wants to pursue her art career through art shows, and one day, venture to Los Angeles where she hopes to have a solo show at Lab Art Gallery.