For this foster care teen, art helps ‘get my feelings out’ when words fail

165024 full
165024 full

As part of our series Age of Expression, teen artists from around Southern California share stories about the art they create and why they do it. Listen to the last installment featuring a young actor who found her "weird wonderland" in theater.

If any stick figures out there have been searching for an advocate, here she is:

"I tell everyone that stick figures are awesome," said Glorianna, "so don’t put them down when all you can say is, 'All I can draw is stick figures.' You can do a lot with stick figures."

Over the years, drawing and painting have given her a sense of ownership as she grew up without a real home to call her own. Glorianna has been in foster care since she was five years old. (We're not using her last name to protect her privacy).

"Recently, I’ve drawn a scene between me and my mom. I used lyrics from a scene from 'Toy Story [2]'. "

Recently, Glorianna made a comic of scenes she dreamed of with her mom using the lyrics of "When She Loved Me" from "Toy Story 2".
Recently, Glorianna made a comic of scenes she dreamed of with her mom using the lyrics of "When She Loved Me" from "Toy Story 2". Priska Neely/KPCC

I did a scene where me and my mom were in a garden, her holding me on her lap and reading to me, us walking around, us making cookies and stuff. And the last one is when she loved me and it has a picture of my mom’s grave. She died when I was nine.  

Priska Neely/KPCC

I’m not gonna lie, it is really, really sad and I cried when I made it because there there’s gonna be those days when everything is sad and people cry and that’s OK. You can’t explain feelings sometimes, so art is a way for me to get my feelings out.

When you draw something sad or you draw something to explain the way you’re feeling – even if it’s just colors on paper – sometimes you gotta use finger paints, sometimes you gotta splatter it everywhere, sometimes you gotta rip up paper and then make something out of it on a canvas. 

Over the years, drawing led her to a love of comics and her basic stick figures evolved into a character named Manny, the Maniac. He's a super hero, still struggling to discover his powers, and he has to work with others to save the world.

Glorianna sketches her character Manny, the Maniac, a super hero still realizing his power.
Glorianna sketches her character Manny, the Maniac, a super hero still realizing his power. Priska Neely/KPCC

"I wanted to build something that started from the bottom and actually had to work his way up," she said. "And I created my character and he looked really awful at first, but I was like, I am making this because the world needs to accept the fact that no one can save the world by themselves!" 

Glorianna moved to transitional housing earlier this year after living at a group home in Rosemead for nearly 14 years. She's planning to attend community college in the fall and dreams of one day designing her own video game.

"Growing up in a group home is hard, but I would not have gone for the things I have now – I wouldn’t have the characters because I wouldn’t have the life experience to make them.

"And I wish that I could have been able to do that in an actual home with a family, but these are the cards I’ve been dealt. And I don’t regret where I am."

Listen to her tell the story in her own words by clicking the blue audio player. 

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