The photo-processing program isn’t the obvious choice for sketching or painting, but Lima’s creativity blossoms on a pixeled canvas, and her talent is currently on display at the Old Mint in San Francisco.
Lima took the top prize in the high school division at San Francisco’s The Dream@50 art contest, which challenged contestants to take a line from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech and express it through art.
Lima chose the line “This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.” Lima’s interpretation, “An Autumn of Freedom,” depicts a frowning black man holding a white leaf to cover part of his face.
“I used a stark white leaf against a dim background to emphasize the shock and prejudice of suppression and tried very hard to capture the grief of such injustice in the young man’s face,” Lima wrote in an essay accompanying her art. “I can’t honestly say I understand this feeling, and perhaps I never will, but I felt grief as I painted his expression, an artistic empathy I wasn’t even aware of.”
Lima was honored during a ceremony at the Yuerba Buena Center of the Arts in San Francisco on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Her Heritage art teacher and mentor, Susan Burkhardt, was so excited when Lima’s name was announced as the winner, she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm.
“I screamed,” Burkhardt said. “A woman next to me said, ‘I take it you know her,’ and I said, ‘Yes! That’s my girl!’ Cherylynn is so talented. I knew immediately when she entered my class two years ago that she had this raw talent that you don’t often see at the high school level. Her creativity is astounding.”
Lima, unlike her teacher, took the news of her win with reserved surprise. While she’s happy that her art has been recognized, she’s still acclimating to the attention.
“Art is my passion,” Lima said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s not like I kept my artistic side a secret. I think art gives you a way to create something purposeful that can change people in a way that words can’t. I’m glad people are getting the chance to see what I can do, but I still have so much to learn. The attention is overwhelming, but I like it.”
Lima became interested in art in middle school when a friend gave her a sketchbook as a gift. Casual doodling became a focused hobby and now she practices daily to hone her craft.
Lima taught herself to use Photoshop and prefers using the program, which saves her the expense of art supplies such as paints or brushes – despite the $200 gift card to a San Francisco art supplies store she won as part of her prize.
“The nice thing about digital art is you have an undo button,” Lima said. “It’s less messy and time consuming to fix mistakes. And if I’m not happy with my current project, I can save it and switch to a new canvas with the click of a button.
“This is the medium I’m most comfortable with, but I’m looking forward to challenging myself in other media as well.”
Lima plans to study art in college and hopes to become an illustrator.
If you can’t make it to the Old Mint in San Francisco to view Lima’s work in person, a digital print, along with her essay, are on display at the main office at Heritage High School, 101 American Ave. in Brentwood.