As a freshman, Leticia Rincon was that girl in the corner who didn’t talk to anyone. The youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Leticia is protective of her family and admires how hard-working her father is. But it wasn’t until she began painting that she became confident.
Her sisters — a 28-year-old and 21-year-old twins — pushed her to be more social. Leticia discovered art during her sophomore year. Encouraged by art teacher Noemi Beltran, she began channeling her anxiety into her paintings.
“I’m a completely different person now than I was as a freshman,” says Leticia, a senior at W.T. White High School. “Art is what helped me gain so many friends. I started attending art shows and entering contests. I even won awards. It helped me get out of my comfort zone.”
Leticia is passionate about portraying elements of her heritage in her paintings, whether it’s bright colors, religion or iconic personalities. A self-portrait features a Virgin Mary necklace that she and her sister Daisy found at a thrift store. All four of the Rincon sisters wear them.
“My culture has a lot to give, and it’s beautiful,” she says. “My family is my biggest inspiration and motivation.”
Beginning with her junior year, Leticia started racking up the awards. For EarthX, she and a group of six students helped Beltran design and paint a dumpster. The W.T. White team beat out five schools to win $3,500 for W.T. White’s art department.
In addition, she won first in the Dallas Veterans Day Art Contest two years in a row. Her father cried as she accepted the award. He’s worked hard as a carpenter so that his daughters could be successful, Leticia explains. Seeing one of them realizing those achievements made him tearfully happy.
Next, Beltran, who has taught Leticia all four years of high school, encouraged her to sign up for a summer program Young Artists in Studio. There she learned how artists earn a living, as architects, designers, in advertising and more. At the end of the term, participants held an art show where Leticia sold her first two portraits, including one of Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis.
But the most humbling experience for Leticia was having her 24-by-36-inch self-portrait showcased at the Dallas Contemporary March 1 as part of the youth art month exhibit.
She remembered visiting the gallery to celebrate her birthday during her freshman year. Now as a senior, her art was on display.
“Leticia is one of the most talented young artists that I have had the privilege of watching grow throughout her four years at White,” Beltran says. “Leticia’s background and struggles helped her develop powerful artwork that reflect her emotions and her culture.”
Leticia is part of the varsity choir and has logged 112 volunteer hours over the last year, including helping to translate for W.T. White parents on Saturdays as part of the Spanish Honors Society.
After graduation, Leticia plans to study advertising or design at the University of Texas at Austin. She attributes much of her success to Beltran. “If it weren’t for her, I truly don’t think I would’ve found myself completely. She pushed me and she helped me with my college applications.”
Before she leaves for college, however, Leticia must say goodbye to her father, who tears up whenever she mentions the topic. “He says, ‘No, you’re not going to leave me!’ I tell him I know I will miss home, but I have to grow.”
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