Artistic Inclinations

Sophomore Jenna Youness co-directs a short film.


Photo Courtesy of Jenna Youness

Youness spray paints at an art fair.

Natalie Suh, Co-Feature Editor

     She set up the camera to film the art that was about to appear. The canvas was blank, ready to be transformed. Blue and black hues sprayed the canvas, setting the scene for the galaxy. White was splattered to mimic the stars, while bright greens, yellows and blues were sprayed to create planets in the cosmos. In the end, the canvas remained no more. Instead, a look into the vast galaxy full of stars and moons appeared.

    Sophomore Jenna Youness was first exposed to spray paint art while she was walking with her family in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The skyscrapers the street artist created with only pot covers and spray paint inspired her. Through YouTube videos and practice, she learned how to create galaxies and landscapes with a few cans of spray paint and plastic lids.

    “I used to draw, but now I do more spray painting than drawing,” Youness said.

    She also plays the saxophone. She started in the fifth grade like most students, but her reason for picking the instrument was slightly different.

“I was obsessed with a song called ‘Mr. Saxobeat,’ which had a really nice sax line in it,” Youness said. “So I chose saxophone to try to sound like the guy in the song playing that sax line.”

    She is currently in the Jazz Ensemble as well as the Jazz Combo. The Jazz Combo is typically made up of more experienced upperclassmen, but her maturity as a musician led her there a year earlier than expected.

    “My favorite genre of music is jazz, so naturally I wanted to be in the Troy High Jazz Ensemble,” Youness said. “I auditioned before freshman year and was extremely ecstatic when [director Brian] Nutting said the words ‘you’re in.’ I’ve been in the ensemble since.”

    Youness is first chair alto saxophone in Symphonic Band as well as a co-section leader in the marching band.

    “Jenna is very talented,” sophomore Concert Band saxophonist Raghav Meini said. “As a musician, she is very focused, but she maintains her light-hearted nature. She puts a lot of expression into what she plays and has accomplished a lot for her age.”

    Youness is always looking for new mediums of art to use in order to express herself. This year she got involved with filmmaking through the program “Reel Stories: Empowering Young Women Through the Art of Filmmaking,” which is hosted by the Arab American National Museum.

    “I’ve had a passion for film since I was young,” Youness said. “I watched tons of movies and would use a tiny camcorder to make my own little skits or music videos with my friends.”

    Youness’ friend, senior Haya Beydoun, had the chance to see the film.

    “The short film is titled ‘Asfoura,’ which is Arabic for bird,” said Beydoun. “It’s about a girl who aspires to be a filmmaker, but her parents want her to be a nurse. I loved the film. It was such a unique take on the struggles of Arab American women.”

    The purpose of the film was to showcase female empowerment and Arab American culture. While working with 20 other American girls, Youness also collaborated with another 20 female filmmakers from Palestine over Skype.

    “I applied thinking I was just going to learn more about film and such,” Youness said. “Little did I know that I was about to be part of a new family. I loved working with the girls there. We were so similar and got along very fast.”

    The film was premiered at the Palestinian Film Festival in Ann Arbor. After the screening, Youness and three other filmmakers held a panel where they answered questions about the process, the program and the themes in the movie.

    “These activities really opened my eyes,” Youness said. “I’ve learned that it’s always better to speak out than stay quiet, and the best way to speak out is through art.”

    She seeks out for more innovative art forms.

    “Every year there’s something new that I want to try,” Youness said. “This summer I want to work more on my improvisational skills on saxophone. There’s an art project I want to try involving a bucket of paint and my RipStik. Whether my career involves arts or not, I’ll never stop doing what I love.”

 Sophomore Jenna Youness spray paints at an art fair; Youness performs at Mr. Troy High with the Jazz Combo; Youness works on “Asfoura” with fellow filmmakers.