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Painting Her Own Path: 

Junior recognized for artistic abilities 


 
 

 
Junior Zaynah Bawa sits alongside a collection of her art. Every year, the AP art class hosts an all-day gallery in which the artists 
feature their work for the school to see. Many of the pieces come directly from her AP Portfolio. 
 
Brow furrowed, Junior Zaynah Bawa hunches over the table in her art room, concentrating on perfecting her 
next piece for her AP Portfolio, a compilation of an artist’s best work from the year that is sent for judging. But the 
thought of having her work judged doesn’t faze her. After all, she has won numerous competitions before. 
Bawa had decided to submit some of her pieces to a competition last year, but didn’t expect for the judges 
to personally reach out to her. 
“It was actually a really big shock to me because I was chosen and had been awarded a high merit,” Zaynah 
Bawa said, “which isn’t top ten, but it is right outside of top ten. It was really an honorable experience for me 
honestly surprising cause i wasn’t expecting much when i submitted.” 
As a result of placing so high in the competition, Bawa and her parents flew out to Los Angeles where she 
presented her work in a gallery and was interviewed. Before the competition, her parents had supported her art to an 
extent, but primarily focused on supported her academic work. As her talents have continued to progress, however, 
they have become significantly more invested. 
“Honestly i’ve never really seen my dad take as much interest in a hobby of mine until that point,” Bawa 
said. “After that, he would show everybody the video of my interview when we were (at the competition) and i’ve 
never seen him that proud of me for something that’s not school related. I think (my parents) were kind of shocked 
and also proud because they kind of had something that they could (brag about to) people and they could see that i 
(was good at) more than just academics.” 
Bawa’s mother, Mehrunissa Bawa, noticed a change in Zaynah after she started pursuing art. 
“I knew she was creative,” Mehrunissa Bawa said, “but art, when she started doing it, she was enthusiastic 
about it. She was self taught, and I was just amazed at the work she was doing, even in the start of the career and the 
art she was doing. What else is there to say? She’s good at it and she loves doing it. When she’s stressed out, this is 
her downtime,...she works on her art and it just relaxes her mind.” 
Zaynah Bawa’s art teacher, Jennifer Russell, has also noticed a change in Zaynah since her start in the class 
and the winning of her awards. 
“I think she’s become a lot more sure of her artistic voice and what she wants to express as opposed to just 
kind of figuring out things or just doing the class project,” Russell said. “Now (her art is) a lot more her. She has a 
definite clear point of view.” 
Zaynah Bawa has also recieved recognition for her work by having a piece of hers published in a magazine. 
The magazine features impressive artwork from kindergarten through twelfth grade students. Her mother credits her 
teacher as the primary reason for Zaynah’s submission. 
“Oh, we were so impressed and very proud that she was selected (to be featured in a magazine),” 
Mehrunissa Bawa said. “First, she did not want to turn in her art piece because she always underestimated her work. 
Her teacher encouraged her even though we were encouraging her,(and)... the teacher’s encouragement helped. Then 
when she was selected we were very proud, very happy for her that she’s been recognized.” 
Her previous recognitions have motivated her to continue to enter more of her art into competitions. She 
aims to become a more recognized artist and let her art reach more people as a result. 
“I recently entered one competition for pieces that are related to animals to bring awareness to animal 
cruelty and the treatment of animals in general,” Zaynah Bawa said, “so I recently entered three pieces for that 
because my concentration in general for my AP Portfolio is Spirit Animals. Multiple of my pieces include animals and 
the way they interact with humans and the way humans interact with animals, so i thought it would be a perfect 
chance to kind of get more of my work out there.” 
Zaynah Bawa’s lengthy pursuit of art has allowed for her to grow, mature, and relax, and to her, it means 
much more than just any elective. 
“When you spend hours going through this type of emotional drain into a piece,” Zaynah Bawa said, “you 
kind of let (everything) out and are just like, ‘this is who I am, this is what I am, and there’s nothing wrong with that’. 
I’m proud of (my art) and I love it just as much as anything else in this world’.” 
With the support of her parents, teacher, and peers, Zaynah Bawa continues her art and plans on pursuing 
art as a hobby or side-job later on in life. Her passion and drive for art is fueled by the hopes of bettering the lives of 
those who view her work, and because of this, she is relentless in reaching her artistic endeavors and goals. 
“ Art is so much more than the artist and the canvas and the paper and the piece itself. I think it's 
something that is so much more spiritual, emotional, and mental than people think . I think people need to step back 
and take art as more than just face value and think of it as a part of everyone.”