Communicating emotion through art: Ali Dellarocco creates to heal and express

Senior Ali Dellarocco is not only a  painter, but a singer as well. In her visual art she focuses on themes such as loss, making her work quite poignant to many.


Senior Ali Dellarocco is not only a painter, but a singer as well. In her visual art she focuses on themes such as loss, making her work quite poignant to many.

It was a regular school day as senior Aliana Dellarocco picked up her brush and held it up to her painting. A self portrait: her sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, hands gripping the steering wheel, eyes straying towards the rearview mirror, a wistful look on her face. She had been working on this piece in her art class for a while now and she was finally ready to add the finishing touches.

Dellarocco does it all. Not only is she passionate about visual arts, but she has also been heavily involved in music and singing. No matter what form of art she engages in, she uses it as an outlet for her emotions and as a vessel for expressing her deeper ideas.

Dellarocco, who goes by Ali, is a self-taught artist. She developed an interest in art at the age of five and started learning how to draw through watching YouTube videos. Generally focusing on realism, her preferred mediums are pencil, pen and watercolor. Her work largely consists of portraits, both of herself and of other people.

“Normally I like to draw people from real life, or from photographs I’ve taken in the past. I like basing art off my own memories and my own experiences and making it very personal. I just represent my life on a canvas,” Dellarocco said.

Dellarocco is currently taking AP Art and Design, marking her first time taking an art class at the high school. Dellarocco approached the teacher, Elizabeth Brennan, at the end of her junior year and showcased her work. Impressed by both the portfolio and Dellarocco herself, Brennan welcomed her into the class.

Senior and Dellarocco’s close friend Alana Lorenz Gerena said it has been inspiring to watch Dellarocco’s artistic abilities grow after entering Brennan’s classroom.

“I remember, when I first met her, art was more of a hobby for her. But this year, I’ve seen her get really involved with her art class. I’ve seen her confidence grow, and I think she is now truly considering herself an artist. It’s become a part of her, it’s not just something that she likes to do,” Lorenz Gerena said.

AP Art and Design students are assigned to complete a sustained investigation, creating a portfolio with each piece catering towards a themed question of their choice. They have the freedom to portray that topic however they want through twenty pieces that are created throughout the course. Dellarocco’s portfolio consists largely of portrayals of her late father, of both the past and what might have been.

According to Dellarocco, the purpose of her project is to unpack the complex themes of legacy and memories.

“I’m trying to use my experience with my father’s passing to make art, mainly because it’s really good inspiration, and I might as well make something good out of a bad experience,” Dellarocco said.

Brennan said Dellarocco’s art is exceptionally moving. Brennan showed one of Dellarocco’s pieces to her husband, who similarly lost his mother at a young age, and the piece seemed to resonate with him deeply, Brennan said.

“Her art is very powerful. Anyone who has experienced loss can feel that. And to see a young woman have that loss in her life, it kind of makes you stop. And that’s pretty powerful, to be able to create work that makes people stop and think about it,” Brennan said.

Lorenz Gerena said Dellarocco’s art is her way of conveying the emotions and aspects of herself that she can’t necessarily put into words.

“I guess that you wouldn’t really know the whole Ali until you’ve seen her pieces and what she draws,” Lorenz Gerena said.

Besides her art class, Dellarocco participates in both Camerata and Note-a-fy, one of the school’s a capella club. After her many years of involvement with music, Dellarocco said her appreciation for performing arts is driven by her love for the community it brought to her.

Dellarocco sings during last year’s Note-a-fy Final Blackbox Concert. Dellarocco is an active member of both Note-a-fy and Camerata Choir. (CONTRIBUTED BY ALI DELLAROCCO)

“I think singing is a good way to deal with mental health, kind of acting as an outlet for all that,” Dellarocco said.

While she does not have any plans to study art or music in the future, Dellarocco said she would love to keep both as side hobbies in college and beyond. According to Dellarocco, she continues to use her art to express herself and heal.

Brennan says she hopes to encourage Dellarocco’s passion for her art further, and support her with wherever she chooses to take it.

“Come over to the UA building and look at the work here, Ali’s included. There’s some really beautiful things happening, and very powerful statements. Making art is not always butterflies and pretty pictures. Making art is a way of communicating emotions,” Brennan said.