Immigration reform policy has been a hot topic for thousands across the country, and one Delaware high school student has decided to act.
Archmere Academy senior Jocelyn Zavala Garcia made immigration the focal point of the project she submitted for the National Arts Education Association (NAEA) contest—a five-week mentorship with Herschel Supply Company and Pensole Footwear Design Academy to create a new backpack design.
Herschel Supply Company is a popular Canadian backpack company that recently held a contest to recognize excellence in the arts. “Pensole and Herschel partnered up with AEA Consulting, the National Art Honor Society and the National Art Education Association to line up its strategic vision to expand the public perception of art and design education through a contest,” says Stephanie Silverman, Art & Design Department Chair at Archmere Academy.
Last year, Silverman registered Archmere Academy with the National Arts Honor Society, an affiliate with NAEA, and this year Garcia is the president of its chapter. In October 2021, Silverman discovered this national contest and made her entire class submit a project. Out of thousands of submissions nationally, only 10 to 20 students were selected, and Garcia was one of them.
Many students chose to highlight conservative concepts like popular bands, local trends, etc. but Garcia wanted to make an impact with her art, so she chose immigration.
“I knew from the start that I wanted to focus on a human rights issue,” says Garcia. “A lot of my art focuses have been on human rights issues, so I chose one from my previous works that focused on the separation of immigrant families and their experiences in detention centers.”
Coming from an immigrant family, Garcia knows the trials and tribulations that families can go through when trying to get into the United States. When she began creating her backpack design, she spoke with her family about their immigration stories to make her art more personal.
“It was interesting hearing their stories and learning more about myself in the process,” says Garcia. “After I talked to my family, I became obsessed with the United Nations website. I love reading more personal stories from other people and learning more about this human rights topic.”
The main focal point of Garcia’s design features a child embracing their father, preparing to be pulled away from his arms. The child is in front of a barbed wire fence that holds the immigrants in the detention centers. Garcia added aluminum foil to the border to stand for the blankets children were given that were tarnished and unkept. One of the real kickers of her design is the collage of photos taken from immigration magazines that showed real life tragedies people faced.
“Jocelyn actually used a painting that she created as the basis for her imagery on the backpack design,” explains Silverman. “She has been doing a lot of work relating to immigration, to not only create an alternate narrative but to make sure that the public is aware of the human toll of the immigration policy.”
Garcia was able to not only highlight her art in this contest but to use it to spotlight a need for change in immigration policies. Her work earned her a place in the Herschel Supply Company mentorship program.
For five weeks, Garcia learned the inner workings of the design industry and worked closely with practicing industrial designers from Pensole and Herschel.
“The first day of the mentorship, they brought in the founders of Herschel, the design director and a marketing member to give us advice on how to improve our designs,” says Garcia. “They gave us knowledge on the business industry and how designs work within that industry.”
Every Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours a day, Garcia learned various aspects of art and design, including how consumers work with designers, how colors interact with each other and how colors work on specific materials used in the backpacks.
Garica is one of two finalists in the contest and will present virtually at the National Arts Education Association convention in New York City. She also received a $10,000 scholarship and an on-site internship in Vancouver with Herschel.
However, Garcia plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to families in need.
“I feel like immigration has always been an important topic for me and my family because we are immigrants,” says Garcia. “I think this was when I really realized the importance of this topic and how I could make a difference with this project.”