Zion Otaño (’18) was recently honored by ACT-SO (the Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics) for his art piece entitled Ashay, which Zion says is a West African, Yoruba word meaning, ‘to be with us.'”  Zion further explains that the piece is a handmade coffin filled with 241 individual clay faces that correspond to the 241 African-Americans shot and killed by police in America in 2020.

The detail and thoughtfulness of the piece belie Zion’s 15 years of age by winning both the Regional and the National Gold medals.  Due to Covid, the national convention required everyone to present their pieces online (see the video below of Zion’s presentation at the national convention where he explains the work in detail).  His prizes include a $2,000 scholarship, an IPAD Pro, and an Apple watch!

Zion aspires to be a lawyer and is about to begin his sophomore year at Harvard-Westlake. Congratulations, Zion!

Ashay art piece by Zion Otano

Ashay (above) is approximately 5″ deep and 15″ long.

Zion Otano in 6th grade at Los Encnos School
Zion in 5th grade at Los Encinos School.
Zion in kindergarten at Los Encinos School 2012-2013

The black-and-white thumbnail photos above are from Zion’s years at Los Encinos School. 6th grade is on the top, then 5th grade, then kindergarten. In the yearbook for kindergarten, Zion wrote that he wants to be “a pizza maker” when he grows up!