Debora Cordero is like most 16-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her friends, listening to her favorite musical artists like Sia and Lady Gaga and of course making sure her homework gets done. That is, when she’s not creating her next masterpiece for an art show or competition.
Cordero has been drawing since she was about 5 years old. She would watch “SpongeBob SquarePants” on TV and read books with animal illustrations, then try to replicate what she saw. But it wasn’t until she started attending the Boys & Girls Club in Kissimmee, Florida, at the age of 10, that she discovered how much she enjoyed drawing. “I met a group of friends at the Club, and they all drew. I wanted to get to know them better, so I started drawing with them. And that’s where I got my passion for art,” she said.
The Club’s teen director encouraged her to enter local art competitions, and so did her high school art teacher. Freshman year, she decided to give it a try. After winning her first Best in Show, Cordero became more passionate about sharing her art. “Over the six years I’ve been with Boys & Girls Clubs and have known Debora, I’ve noticed how she has become more assertive with all her aspirations,” said Joel Santana, teen program director at the Kissimmee Club. “Debora is a talented artist, and it’s exciting that her talents continue to grow along with her.”
“The Club has boosted my academic, physical and mental confidence and capabilities,” Cordero said. “Each staff (member) has pushed me to achieve greater things and take myself places I’d never imagine going.”
Drawing her inspiration from nature and outer space, she created a mural for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Fine Arts Exhibit. The year-round program encourages Club members ages 6 to 18 to express their creativity in a variety of mediums. Cordero’s mural beat out artwork from hundreds of artists to win Best in Show. Little did she know, the drawing would change her life.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America tapped the Best in Show winner to create another mural that would be displayed in the 50 Clubs selected for Renovation Across the Nation, a Lowe’s program that awarded $2.5 million in grants to renovate Clubs in every state.
“I was so excited when I found out I had been selected for this!” Cordero said. “Not many artists have their art in all 50 states. And for me to be a part of this huge project that’s helping so many youth is really a blessing to me.”
Cordero earned a trip New York, where her mural was revealed at the Renovation Across the Nation launch event in Harlem. Cordero and her artwork also were featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The mural depicts the life stages of Club members, from a child to a graduating young adult, through the different programs and influences experienced by Boys & Girls Clubs members. Each Club that is part of Renovation Across the Nation will draw the mural on a wall of their choice. “The Clubs serve so many youth and having a safe place they can go to is really important – that’s why Renovation Across the Nation is so amazing!” Cordero said.
From the level of detail put into the sketch to the mixing of paints to get the right shades she wanted – which she said she learned by watching different art videos and simply doing what they did – Cordero created the mural in just a week. “Knowing all these kids will get to see what I painted is really cool,” she said, “and I hope it inspires them.”
For those out there exploring their artistic side, Debora’s advice is to “practice, practice, practice!”
“Draw as often as you can, and don’t be afraid of failure,” she said. “Experiment with different styles and mediums, watch tutorials, ask others for thoughts and overall, make use of the resources you have around you.”
When it comes to her future, Cordero already has her sights set on possible career paths. While she loves studying life sciences and is considering a career in medicine, she also would love to be an illustrator or concept artist. Either way, something suggests this won’t be the last we’ll hear from Debora Cordero.