Cougar of the Week: Q&A with CSUSM student Gyanna Downey


Photo courtesy of Gyanna Downey; graphic by Carolyn Cheng

CSUSM student Gyanna Downey has a passion for photography.

Marbella Ramirez, Assistant Features Editor

Gyanna Downey is a talented second year student majoring in psychology and minoring in visual arts. Read this Q&A to learn more about her artistic journey in photography and to get a sneak peek at her future projects.

When did your interest in photography start? What inspired you then?

My friend had actually asked me to take an online photography class with her our sophomore year in high school (2016). I didn’t have much interest in it at first but once I started taking pictures for that class, I realized how much I liked it. After the class ended I almost always brought my camera with me everywhere

What inspires your art now?

It’s the people around me that inspire my art. I love taking portraits of my friends and family and getting a glimpse into their personality because everyone is so unique. It’s fun getting to showcase who they are. I’m actually working on a project right now where I’m photographing people and their alter egos!

Can you tell me more about your alter ego project?

For my project, I’m going to photograph people as their regular self and then I’m having them create their alter ego so they can explore fashion and find a new and creative way to express themselves. I thought it would be so interesting to see another side to all these people that I already know and love

How has COVID impacted you artistically? How have you overcome those obstacles?

Actually, COVID helped bring me out of the art block! I was struggling to find time with all my school work and my job to start photography and painting again, but once we were put in lockdown, I ordered a journal to help keep me entertained. I’m someone who takes a lot of time to get inspired so being home all the time gave me the opportunity to start my hobbies up again. I even started selling jewelry! So I didn’t have many obstacles when it came to my art during this time.

What is the meaning behind your favorite project you’ve created and why is it your favorite?

I just completed a project where I was photographing people’s hands holding random objects that are significant to them and I loved it because I was always surprised by the objects they chose. At first glance they are so random, but once they give an explanation about it, it changes the way you see it. It’s not trivial anymore, it becomes a memory or a symbol and it’s really cool to hear their stories.

Marbella Ramirez is the Assistant Features Editor for The Cougar Chronicle. She is currently a first year student majoring in communication, minoring in chemistry and biology. Although she is not sure of what type of journalism she would like to dedicate her life to, her aspirations have always been in the media world. She previously worked for her high school newspaper and yearbook. Currently she is a contributing writer for EnVi Magazine.