Today’s blog post is by the winner of this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition, 10th grader Akilah Johnson. Given the contest’s theme—“What makes me...me”—who better than the young artist herself to answer that question? - Ed.
When I was younger, I attended Roots Public Charter School and Roots Activity Learning Center in Northwest Washington, D.C. These schools promote a strong connection to African heritage, and an Afrocentric lifestyle; we regularly celebrated important African American people and I learned a lot about my history as an African American. As I grew older, I realized that the black people that came before us have made us into what we are today. So of course I had to include them in my doodle on the theme “What makes me...me.”
My goal with my art was to not only turn heads but souls as well—not only for someone to see it and be amazed by it but also to have them understand and connect with it. My drawing explores childhood themes and then moves into reflections on our society. Everything surrounding the word "Google" depicts my characteristics. Of all the things I chose to include, the six most special to me are the Symbol of Life (the ankh), the African continent, where everything began for me and my ancestors, the Eye of Horus, the word "power" drawn in black, the woman's fist based on one of my favorite artist’s works, and the D.C. flag—because I’m a Washingtonian at heart and I love my city with everything in me!
I've always been encouraged to pursue art, especially by my teachers—first Baba Camera from Roots, and now my art teacher Zalika Perkins. But participating in Doodle 4 Google gave me an understanding of why art matters and why MY art matters—because it speaks to people. No matter our differences, everyone is touched by art in some way. Winning this competition opened my eyes to the many types of art and the many ways it can resonate with people. I’m excited to keep creating art that matters.