Arantza Peña Popo: “Once You Get it, Give it Back”

Trying to portray the intense relationship of a mother and a daughter dynamic as the primary subjects for a piece of art has been a feat explored by numerous artists. However, Lithonia, Georgia teen, Arantza Peña Popo managed to successfully create a beautiful display of this affection for Google’s Doodle for Google competition. 

Arantza’s love for art sprouted at the early age of three. She continued her passion for art as a teen while attending Arabia Mountain high school in Dekalb County, where she graduated as the valedictorian. According to CNET, she was suffering from a “massive art block” during her senior year of highschool. So, when the Doodle for Google’s theme of “When I Grow Up, I Hope,” was announced, she wasn’t exactly sure  how she would approach the task. 

“I came up with the idea last minute, actually the day of the deadline,” she said, according to CNET. However, the significance of Arantza’s piece comes not from an extreme isolated event of her life, but from an unyielding love. 

Popo explains that the inspiration for her artwork originated from a photograph in her home, in which her mother is holding her younger sister. Arantza’s rendition of the photo depicts an image of her mother embracing an infant version of herself in a picture frame. On the outside of the frame, an older version of Popo is holding an elderly version of her mother. “When I grow up,” Arantza says on the “Doodle for Google,” 2019 webpage, “I hope to care for my mom as much as she cared for me my entire life.” Her piece “Once You Get it, Give it Back,” attests to this sort of motherly love that she hopes to reciprocate in the future.

Through Popo’s reflective artwork, one can see her love for her mother and the tremendous amount of respect that she has for her. “I want to make it about my mother. She’s made too many sacrifices for me,” she expressed. She hopes to help her mother travel to all of the places that she wasn’t able to, and after her successful win, she most certainly will be able to accomplish that goal, along with many others. 

Her win was announced on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Fallon was one of the judges for the 2019 competition; and he specifically chose her beautiful art out of 200,000 other applicants. Popo’s intricate doodle was displayed on Google’s homepage for twenty-four hours. She also was awarded a $50,000 tech package for her highschool and a $30,000 scholarship for the University of Southern California, where she will be attending in the fall.

The personalization of her piece speaks volumes of her relationship with her mother who, she tells Google, “lights up any room that she is in.” While Arantza originally planned on creating a body of work on her career passions, or an invention, her decision to pay homage to her mother touched millions across the globe. Her piece created an overwhelming sense of a generational love and reciprocity that was beautifully represented by an array of colors and a heartwarming interpretation of a photograph.

-Mikhayla Robinson