Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Meet the artist, art instructor, and parent of two behind the local Create With Adriana events.
By Adriana Ochoa
El Segundo resident Adriana Ochoa has shared her love of art and creativity with her community in myriad ways: as an art teacher at Richmond Street School and Arena High School, through her Create With Adriana maker events, and as a curator and retailer of unique items via her pop-up and online shops. “It’s not the end product; it’s the process,” Adriana says of creativity of all kinds, and she lives this philosophy through her work.
A Bicoastal Art Educator
Adriana was born and raised in New York City and earned her BFA from Queens College. Specializing in drawing and photography, Adriana spent countless hours in her school’s dark room, developing film, working as a lab technician, and learning first-hand the value of accidents and mistakes—which would later shape her approach to teaching art to kids. “I like mistakes,” she says. “We learn through accidents and mishaps.”
After college, in 1998, Adriana found work at a nearby high school teaching art and discovered she was able to reach all students by respecting them as individuals. “I’ve taught children of all ages,” Adriana explains of her eight-year teaching career, “and high school is my favorite. They’re so smart, those kids, but they don’t quite know it.”
After having her first child, Cruz, she began volunteering in his classrooms, including at Richmond Street School after moving from New York to California in 2011. Adriana taught art at Richmond Street School as a volunteer for three years, then took a position teaching art at Arena High School after a referral from her friend, fellow artist and El Segundo resident Dawn Hall. At Arena, Adriana says, she loved the freedom she had to teach the kids flexibly and in small groups. (See our story on a mural Adriana’s Arena High School students created in our July 2018 issue.)
Creating “Create With Adriana”
After years of making art with children and adolescents, Adriana began gathering adults, mainly women here in El Segundo, in the backyard of her home to socialize and relax while she’d lead them in a creative project. Attendees needed only show up and be willing to participate; Adriana would make all supplies available and would usually offer refreshments as well. Her first such event took place in 2017, at the request of a mom-friend who asked if Adriana could lead a creative event to celebrate the friend’s birthday. Adriana did, and the event was a success. From that first event, Create With Adriana was born, and she held her first “official” Create event that Halloween, welcoming six to eight women into her expansive back yard to paint and embellish decorative skulls.
For her Create events, Adriana says, she likes to choose creative projects that she herself enjoys, and that are beautiful and interesting but also “easy and forgiving,” she adds, so that participants don’t feel pressured or stressed. “The most important feature of these events,” she explains, “is for people to gather, encourage each other, laugh, chat, socialize, and make friends.” She wants participants to “learn something new and accept that everyone’s finished product is unique.” She adds, “My hope is for everyone to leave feeling happy, empowered, and capable.”
One of Adriana’s favorite artistic processes to teach at her events is the Japanese art of shibori, which involves dyeing fabric with indigo. “It’s easy and magical and so satisfying,” she enthuses, “and it always yields something unique and beautiful.” The very best part, she adds, is that participants “get to make a mess in my yard, and I’ll clean it up!”
Other Create With Adriana events have centered on making sage smudge bundles, seaglass trees, potted succulents, fiber art, and more. Private, extra-small, socially distanced, and always-outdoor Create events have continued during the pandemic, with face coverings required and other safety measures in place.
Shopping Made Personal
In addition to holding her Create events for community members, Adriana maintains a shop, where she sells both her own handmade items and interesting, fun products she sources from around the United States and carefully curates based on her tastes and the desires of her customers. “Living so much of my life in New York City,” she explains, “I loved the experience of trolling the city on weekends, with my kid in a stroller, meandering from shop to shop looking for unique items.” Adriana recreates that sense of discovery in her shop, which she makes available as frequent pop-ups at her home in El Segundo and online via Facebook and Instagram. Adriana has a wholesale license, which makes it possible for her to find all sorts of treasures online, purchase them wholesale, and sell them via her pop-ups and online shop.
“I only sell items I like and those my customers request,” she says of her curatorial style. “I purchase what I feel will appeal to most but that I also like myself.” Her shop includes whimsical décor and home goods, clothing, items specific to Southern California, and pieces she’s created herself. “I deliver for free within the South Bay,” she says, and customers can arrange for her to ship goods elsewhere within the United States as well.
Outside of being an artist and creator herself, Adriana believes in sharing the joy of making and creating with people of all ages, as is evidenced by her history as an educator and now a leader of creative social events and a retailer of unique, often hand-crafted items. She holds events for Girl Scout troops, hosts private Create parties, and donates events to silent auctions to benefit local schools.
Explore Adriana’s creative world yourself by visiting @CreateWithAdriana on Facebook and Instagram. There, you’ll be able to peruse her online shop and keep informed of future Create events and pop-up shops.
On Facebook and Instagram: @createwithadriana On Etsy: createwithadriana