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Local Youth Artists Spotlight

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

Intro by Dayanara Almon

CW: There are swear words in the music in the film excerpt and images vaguely implying smoking and suicide in the visual art.

Art is an integral part of uplifting our communities and cultures. In its various forms it has contributed to social change, served as a form of self expression, and provides essential tools for social and emotional learning. Throughout my life art has been a passion of mine from performing arts to writing. I’ve seen firsthand the talent young artists have, in the South End of Seattle and beyond. Even throughout the pandemic youth artists have continued to create passionately, and it’s deeply inspiring. One popular example is Amanda Gorman. In the midst of a global pandemic, racial reckoning, and rise in social injustice she became the National Youth Poet Laureate. With her poem The Hill We Climb she touched the nation, and pushed our motivations and movements for equality in a time where those things seemed so far away. Now, other young artists continue to do this work. Young artists are voicing their opinions on social justice and expressing their creativity all over the country. In this piece, we are spotlighting young artists in our communities to uplift their work.

The artists featured include Ruby Lee and Esme Jablonsky.

SOUFEND (excerpt)

A short film by Ruby Lee

SOUFEND is a series of intimate moments, thoughts, and memories shared between friends as they prepare to leave their community and go to college. Centering the voices and experiences of the community I was born and raised in has always been an important part of my artmaking process. This film, in many ways, is my own reflection of my years living and growing up in a community that is now being gentrified, questioning how it will look in the future. I like to think of the two characters in the film as almost my conflicting feelings about the future. One excited by the idea of spreading my wings, and the other, afraid of the unknown, afraid of what might come of my precious community once I leave. SOUFEND is a love letter to my community and hopefully a way for people from the Southend and Rainier Beach to feel seen and understood.


Various Visual Art Pieces

by Esme Jablonsky

A painting of a heart shaped pink and green cake on a green plate on a blue background with a smoking cigarette in the center of the cake like a candle

Sweet Release

(acrylic on canvas)

This piece popped into my head as such a clear image and i just had to get it out. combining 2 cravings like this and contrasting them with each other allows people to get a sense of how close the 2 are in their own

A painting of a grey train on a blue background with back bars vertically across the entire picture with a large grey rectangular shape int he foreground with the letter E in yellow, some abstract shapes and splotches in red, white, and yellow pepper the painting

E train

(watercolor on paper)

I was tasked with doing a painting from a stock photo in an art class I was taking. The original photo was a simple shot of a german subway station, clean as could be. Alas, I was immediately bored by this. So I decided to let the story of the photo show me something completely different.

CW: imagery around suicide. A somewhat psychedelic style drawing of a green apple that is also a person's head. The person has three eyes and hearts on their cheeks and is smoking a cigarette. There are mushrooms and smoke and red bowling shoes in the background, as well as a chair and a small stick figure hanging from a noose.

Candy Apples

(colored pencil and posca pen on paper)

I absolutely hated this drawing when I was working on it. But by the time I came to the end, it was one of my favorite things I have done in this past year. It is meant to capture some of the chaos of dealing with gender and neurodivergence, and how nonsensical the outside world so often feels.

A drawing of a person in the bath lighting a cigarette in their mouth, they have green skin and orange/yellow hair. They are surrounding by pink bubbles and blue and pink radiating lines on a blue background.


(posca markers on paper)

This piece draws a lot of influence from one of my biggest idols; David Bowie. His colorful androgyny always drew me in, and this was my first crack at the euphoria of expression.


Ruby Lee takes a mirror selfie with her phone in a bathroom. Ruby has her hand on her hip and is wearing a black hat, jacket, belt, and pants over an orange shirt.

Hi! I’m Ruby Lee, she/her pronouns. I’m an artist and filmmaker based in South Seattle. I’m passionate about telling meaningful stories about my community and my identity. I create pieces to inspire and spark joy in the viewers. I am part of youth artist communities like The Vera Project, Youth in Focus, and Rain City Rock Camp. I’m a music connoisseur, foodie, and lover of fashion!

Support Ruby's work!

Social Media: @ruby.jin.lee on Instagram

Cash Handles:

Cash App - roobeelee

PayPal -

Esme smiles at the camera in a selfie in a red sweater with red eye makeup and braces.

Hi! My name is Esme Jablonsky. I’m an upcoming junior at West Seattle High School, and I plan to head to art school when I'm done! My art centers around themes of mental illness, addiction, gender, and queerness. I try to convey feelings and struggles that I cannot put to words with bright visuals and bold colors. I draw a lot of inspiration from pop art, as well as artists like Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh. You’ll see a lot of cigarettes pop up in my work, and I'll let you decide what it means while only telling you that I have never smoked a cigarette in my entire life and do not plan to.

Support Esme’s work!

Social Media:

@gumshoearts on Instagram and Twitter

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