Featured Artist: Lara Lew-Strass

Paly senior creates art from the heart


Adding the last stroke to her fourth painting of the month, senior Lara Lew-Strass takes a satisfied look at the finished product, already planning her next design. 

In a world where ChatGPT is grabbing headlines and Elon Musk is attempting to implant chips in the human brain, works of art produced through artificial intelligence are simultaneously disrupting the art world. Yet even in the enclave of Silicon Valley, where tech rules supreme, there remains an appreciation for art formed by human hands.

At Paly, Lew-Strass is familiar to many for her unique art pieces and the way they build community. An innovator and entrepreneur in jewelry-making, Lew-Strass began making her own jewelry as a way to tap into her creative side and express her sense of style. 

“I enjoy all types of art including painting, jewelry making, ceramics, glass blowing, and collage making,” Lew-Strass said. 

We layered a ton of little cartoons on top of each other so it ends up a compilation of colors and shapes.

— Lara Lew-Strass, senior

There is no one source of inspiration for Lew-Strass; through relationships, she is able to find a variety of aesthetics. 

“I get my inspiration for art from my friends,” Lew-Strass said. “We send each other things that we see online like paintings, pottery, jewelry, or clothing. And I take those styles, patterns, or colors and try to incorporate them in my own art.” 

Lew-Strass is attuned to how art inspires other art. Although the rise in technology within the art scene has its flaws, Lew-Strass finds use in the benefits modern advances have. 

Art by Lara Lew-Strass

“I feel like all art affects other art…,” Lew-Strass said. “There is so much different art available on social media and online that you can truly find inspiration in anything.” 

Lew-Strass has started her own jewelry business, PerlaRisa. She sells phone chains, necklaces, and bracelets in person, on the Paly campus as well as online through Etsy. 

Like other young entrepreneurs, she pours hours of time into her business each week on top of her schoolwork but has managed to find days and times that work best for her schedule.   

“Creating products and advertising them and talking about them with people requires a lot of effort so if you’re going to do it, make sure it is about something you truly enjoy and are willing to devote hours to,” Lew-Strass said. 

Not only does she make jewelry, but Lew-Strass also paints as a recreational activity with friends. 

We send each other things that we see online like paintings, pottery, jewelry or clothing. And I take those styles, patterns or colors and try to incorporate them in my own art.

— Lara Lew-Strass, senior

A lot of my friends paint and do ceramics,” Lew-Strass said. “We love to send each other art that we see on social media […] painting has become a social thing for me more so than just an art form.” 

Art by Lara Lew-Strass

The effort Lew-Strass has put into her business venture has been paying off. Her Instagram account for PerlaRisa Jewelry has over 150 followers on Instagram. Friends and satisfied customers have become brand ambassadors, and Lew-Strass plans to continue creating for PerlaRisa when she is in college. 

“I like making unique things,” said Lew-Strass. “Making new designs is more fun because I get to explore new patterns and colors.”