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By Outreach Coordinator Cilladean Hopkins

Safe Space Grant winner Aziel Sandman (He/Him) spoke with staff member Cilladean about the grant he recently received from Amador County Arts Council (Amador Arts), the Supportive Funding Grant. This grant program has been in existence since 2012.

Aziel is a Sophomore at Argonaut High School and has been creating art since he was three years old. He is a visual artist that likes to create in the digital medium and enjoys writing short stories and novels. Thanks to the support and introduction to Amador Arts from his aunt and mom, Aziel learned about the grant opportunities the State Local Partner for Amador County provides for local artists and organizations. Aziel has been awarded the Safe Space Grant which is for projects that encourage, promote, and support rural 2SLGBTQAI+ lives.

Although this project does not have a name yet, it does have a strong message. Through the use of his original character named Dou.z, Aziel will create two graphics per month that include supportive messages and promote anti-bullying culture by giving love to all people. Dou.z, pronounced do͞ozē, is described as “a silly little guy” that uses all pronouns and is from all places, really honing in on the inclusivity of all people. When asked what messages Dou.z will be sharing, Aziel said he lives by the idea that “everyone has a place on this earth, everyone has a purpose, everyone matters to someone,” and he wants to make sure that the people of Amador County and beyond know this universal truth. Aziel’s main goal of this project is to spread positivity and help people know that they are loved.

Aziel expressed that when applying for the grant he was scared there might be a specific way his art had to be made. He said he didn’t want to be told “draw inside the lines, which is why people in this community need support, which is why I’m glad to be giving it!” The young artist is grateful that this grant does not do this and instead allows him to support his community through his own unique artistic and creative process. Aziel has found support through family and countless teachers that encourage his creative and artistic ideas. While recovering from a major surgery two years ago, he found that makingart helped in the healing process, whether it was drawing for himself or sharing drawings with loved ones . To learn more about the Amador Arts Supportive Funding Grants visit https://www.amadorarts.org/grants/ . Applications for 2024 funding open in April.

Safe Space Recipient: Aziel Sandman
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