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Meet Gabriel!

Inner Image

Meet Gabriel! Gabriel sees the world as a bright and colorful place just waiting to be turned into an art project. He finds inspiration in his friends, family, school community, and especially the work of other artists. In his mind, creativity is everywhere! He is passionate about making the world a better place for everyone, though he would rather be the one making the posters for the movement rather than be the face of it. Gabriel sees the best in everyone and encourages his friends and classmates to reach for their dreams no matter what. With the mindset that our imagination is the only limit to what we can achieve, Gabriel is an inspiring and dedicated member of his family, school, and community.

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MEET THE FLORES-CARDOSA FAMILY!

Gabriel lives with his mom, Yara, a secretary; his dad, Luis, an office supervisor; and his Abuela Silva. Whether they are having family game night or hosting a neighborhood BBQ serving traditional Mexican street food, the Flores-Cardosa family spends lots of quality time as a family and with friends in their community.

GABRIEL’S INTERESTS

Gabriel is a deep thinker who uses art to express himself and understand the world around him. He connects with graphic novels and spends his free time working on his own graphic novel series. Gabriel enjoys art and books from all over the world, but he is particularly influenced by his friends and family.

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WATCH GABRIEL’S STORY

HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

Each of the Fly Five characters has a unique story to tell. While they all live in the same neighborhood and share many interests, teams, clubs, and classrooms, they have different strengths, values, hopes, and ways of perceiving the world. The human interest stories offer students and teachers an opportunity to connect with the characters more deeply, as the stories are first-person accounts of an important moment in each one’s life. From coming-of-age reflections about family and faith to explorations of one’s place in their cultural history, these stories remind us of the ways we are all connected: through our relationships, our triumphs and struggles, and our ability to find hope and resilience no matter what challenges life presents.

GABRIEL CARDOSA-SILVA

The Color of My Cultures

I was accepted into my first art show this year. The museum was putting on an exhibit to celebrate el Día de la Independencia de México, and they invited local artists and professional Mexican artists from all over the world. I submitted a work I had already done but then got to make a new one about the theme of Color Your Culture. Being Mexican-American, I wasn’t sure what to paint exactly. Two flags? Two self-portraits? I felt a lot of pressure to get it right because my dad loved Mexican art, and he invested so much time in mine. We’d go to museums together, and whenever we’d pass a painting by a Mexican artist, we’d stop and look at it for a little longer.

“Look at the way she uses the blue,” he’d say. Or, “He uses a traditional Mexican color palette; you can tell from that deep shade of red.”

I wanted my painting to be authentic, and admired, just like the ones my father and I would see in the museums.

I tried a few different options. I painted two maps, one of my neighborhood and one of Mexico City, where my mom’s family lives. I sketched out two flags, the Mexican flag and the American flag, but neither felt right. Painting my culture wasn’t something I’d ever thought about before, and it was harder than I’d expected.

When I talked to my dad about my artist’s block, he told me, “You need to learn to feel it, hijo.”

On the weekend before el Día de la Independencia, my family had our usual celebration. My abuela made chiles de nogado and agua de tamarindo; Mom strung red, green, and white lanterns up on the roof; and Dad bought sparklers to give to all the kids in the building. At the party, I couldn’t stop thinking about my painting. The deadline was coming up, and I had nothing to submit. As I stood off to the side, watching my friends and family celebrating Mexican Independence Day, I realized this was my painting. My Mexican-American heritage was right in front of me.

I sketched what I saw: Mom and Abuela Silva laughing, friends from my building who were from all different cultures making shapes with sparklers, and Dad dancing to Mexican music by the food table. A few weeks later we went to the museum to see the exhibit. Hanging next to a bright yellow portrait of a butterfly was my painting: La Celebración. My family and friends, alive and vibrant, Mexican and American, dancing on a canvas in primary colors.

Making that painting helped me to see that there isn’t a line between being Mexican and American. It’s all part of who I am and who my family is. I couldn’t paint two separate maps or two separate flags because they can’t be separated. Having my art in a museum, in an exhibit, celebrating all the different ways that one can be Mexican, was special. I want to make sure my paintings always reflect that so when someone looks at it they can point to a color and recognize where I come from just like my dad does with the reds and blues.

As I was looking at my work and taking in the moment, my dad came and stood next to me. He pointed to the shade of blue I’d used for the sky. “You learned to feel it,” he whispered and draped his arm over my shoulder.

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RESEARCH

  • Fly Five is designed with the awareness that diversity and representation is a non-negotiable aspect of social and emotional learning. Central to this curriculum is our cast of nine characters who are grounded in authentic storylines that represent diversity of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religious beliefs, family structure, socioeconomic status, and more. In creating the characters, we employed a careful, critical research process to ensure that their cultures, interests, appearance, and family structures are accurately and respectfully depicted.
  • Research for Gabriel included an examination of Mexican traditions, the role of the extended family in Mexican culture, and the lived experiences of Mexican-Americans.
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