Student and her artwork take flight

La Crescenta resident Christina Padilla, 19, often dreamed of a major platform for her artwork, but her audience was largely confined to family members, teachers and classmates.

Now, a piece by the 2011 Crescenta Valley High School graduate, installed on the facade of the Bob Hope Airport on Dec. 1., is being viewed by hundreds of thousands of travelers coming through the Burbank transportation hub during the holiday season.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Padilla said Monday. “It is very exciting. I am very grateful for such an opportunity.”

The work, a 16-foot by 26-foot banner depicting four winged horses pulling an airplane, is on display after being selected as the top submission from Glendale Unified in the airport’s annual Tower Art Banner Contest.

The competition provides young artists with a venue for their work that would otherwise be out of reach, said Lucy Burghdorf, manager of relations and government affairs at Bob Hope Airport.

This year’s contest attracted more than 100 submissions from the Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena school districts, Burghdorf said. Art councils at the respective districts work with airport officials to select the standouts, and the first-place winners from each district then have their art work displayed for three months each, she said. Padilla’s work will be up through February.

Padilla, who learned to draw as a child from her grandmother and her parents, later studying under longtime Crescenta Valley High School art teacher Sarah Wiggins, finished second in a 2010 contest. When the submission deadline for the 2011 contest approached, she found herself more motivated than ever.

“I did a bunch of different sketches and I was really frustrated at first because I couldn’t think of anything,” Padilla said. “I am like, ‘This is my last year, I really want to give it my all.’”

What she produced was a team of equines pulling a commercial jetliner over the Earth’s horizon. The tableau is expected to be viewed by the approximately 368,000 passengers expected to pass through the airport this month alone.

“I describe it as flying through the universe, through the galaxies, with the horses acting almost as sleigh horses, pulling the plane to new heights,” Padilla said.

Her former teacher said that she has worked with manytalented students over the years, but that Padilla stands apart.

“She is a very joyful person,” Wiggins said. “She has a got a lot of positive energy and it certainly comes through in her work. Her artwork flows natural, she gets an idea and she doesn’t need a whole lot of visual references. Most of the things come out of her head, which is unique.”

Community art collaborations serve to motivate young artists, said Padilla, who is currently taking classes at Glendale Community College and hopes to eventually enroll at Art Center in Pasadena.

“Sometimes that is all they have to turn to — art,” Padilla said. “They may not be doing well in English or math. Holding on to art gave me my own wings.”

Burbank Unified’s first place winner, Jasmine Flores, had her work displayed Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Padilla’s installation, up through Feb. 29, will be followed by the first-place winner from Pasadena, Hannah Baldwin.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World