SAN ANTONIO – An art contest in the fifth grade helped Rachel Kamata realize she had potential as an artist.
“There was a Parent Teacher Association art competition,” Kamata said. “I got a participation award that looked very fancy for drawing on a sheet of lined paper, and I thought (that) in middle school I should take some art classes. That's really where it started, (in) middle school.”
According to The National PTA’s website, their Reflections program is designed to encourage students in Pre-K through 12th grade to create original art pieces and boost their confidence in the arts and in life.
Through the years, Kamata has been able to explore new art mediums like oil panting, clay and block painting. The senior at NEISD’s International School of the Americas now has an extensive portfolio that showcases her creativity, realistic portraits of herself and grandmother and numerous art pieces that have earned some of the highest honors.
“When I’m working on my personal art pieces, there is an intent and motivation to create something that I want to viewers to see, but also that I want to express this idea that I think it's deserving of paper or canvas or whatever medium I choose to use,” Kamata said.
Then there are larger than life pieces that don’t fit inside the black portfolio she carries over her shoulder.
“I've had the opportunity to work on collaborative pieces like murals,” Kamata said. Creating a mural for one of Texas’ most popular fast-food chains has been one of Kamata’s favorite experiences as an artist.
“I think the most interesting was working on the 'Light Fiber’ mural for Whataburger,” Kamata said. “That was because we used vinyl and it was applied to the windows. It was a very non-traditional material to use for murals, and we had a lot of fun putting up and taking down the mural in the winter.”
Collaborating with different artists, Kamata said, is the best part of murals.
“There's always this greater sense of community. You're helping the community. You're creating something that’s not only (for) you, but (that) a lot of other people are going to see and enjoy.”
Kamata has mailed off numerous of art pieces to competitions in hopes that she’ll win, but one of her most recent mail packages has more meaning. She worked on the print titled “Three cranes dancing” for two months as part of Blue Star Contemporary’s student artist program, Mosaic.
“For this piece, it's really talking about my Japanese heritage and my grandparents who live in Japan,” Kamata said. Kamata was able to make copies of her print and sent one to her grandparents for Mother’s Day. “I don't know if it's arrived yet, but hopefully they will soon. (Through this print was) really how I (could) communicate to them the desire to be together.”
Kamata isn’t able to visit her fraternal grandparents and language has also been a barrier to build a relationship.
“I don't have proficiency in the Japanese language yet, which is why I'm going to be studying it in college,” Kamata said.
Kamata said she wouldn’t have been able to get this far in her art career if it weren’t for her teachers that through the years, have created a safe space for students that desire to express their creativity through art.
“I’m just thankful that I've had the opportunity to go to an amazing school and be part of the (Blue Star Contemporary’s) MOSAIC program. They both helped me to develop as artists, as a person, and I'm forever thankful to both of them.”
Kamata will pack up her brushes, paints and other materials to start a new chapter in the fall at the University of Rochester New York. Although she hasn’t decided on a major, she plans to study art and focus on the Japanese culture with a possible career in international relations.