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Student Stories

Fresh Encounters: Adam Jonah

Freshman Adam Jonah shares his daily creative practice where he expresses himself through words, creatures, stories, animations, and artworks. He considers this exploration his source of joy, wellness, and inspiration...

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy? 

As a young lad, my deep curiosity about the world led me to transfer from my public high school to two semester high school programs where the curriculum included an emphasis on experiential learning. At the High Mountain Institute, I took classes while navigating the Colorado backcountry. At The Mountain School, I lived and worked on a self-sustaining organic farm in Vermont while taking classes with an emphasis on being connected to the natural world. Stoked with an expansive mindset, I graduated early from my origin high school to be able to dedicate myself full-time to pursuing my creative projects. I then devoted my time to painting, drawing, writing, and exhibiting my artwork. In addition, I created a project called United Imagination, as part of my mission to use imaginative exploration and creative expression as a method of wellness and healing. For college, I was looking to be a part of a community of creative minds seeking to expand, develop, and support each other. I searched and found that the Iovine & Young Academy is the only one of its kind.

Adam Jonah’s painting studio/drawing room

United Imagination Interactive art installations and paintings exhibited at Art Market + Design at the Bridgehampton Museum, Summer 2017

Describe a passion project you’re currently working? 

I am in the process of a few projects revolved around creating a universe of my joyous imaginary creatures. Please check out my first animation videos on YouTube. I am publishing my new book, i rub my belly. It is a whimsical exploration of art, nature, health, & community. With my project United Imagination, I create interactive art installations that allow the observer to collaborate and express their imagination by drawing directly on the art. I am debuting a new United Imagination interactive artwork at ARTWALK NY 2018, benefiting The Coalition For The Homeless, November 28th in New York City. This Fall, I created my second large scale United Imagination interactive art installation for Northwell Health in NY. These projects are based on the premise that we all have the unique capability of using our imagination to positively impact ourselves and the world around us.

What inspired the project?

I engage in a daily practice of creative self-expression through words and art. I find this to be a critical source of wellness and inspiration. When I was younger, I shared my creations with others and found that they often made people smile, laugh, and feel excited to talk and share their own creativity with me.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you? 


My mother. I realize that as a creative creature having strategic mentorship, visioning, and support is critical for me in the pursuit of my passions.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?


What are three goals you have this year?

  1. Expressing myself fearlessly.
  2. Being joyous in the moment.
  3. Exploring the beautiful essence of all the others/creatures around me.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?

I cherish my natural creative process and the natural function of my body/mind -- therefore I don’t do drugs or drink alcohol.

What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?

They taught me to be comfortable, compassionate, confident, and fearless in being and expressing my real self.

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Water, pencils & paper for drawing and writing words. (Also, on special days, I treat myself to a raw celery juice, lemon water, or seaweed snack!)

Favorite app or website?
Notes app (to write down ideas)

Favorite class at USC and why?
CTPR 476, Directing the comedic scene. The concepts shared in this class are mind-blowing, refreshing and specifically actionable.


Favorite way to de-stress:
2x daily meditation, walking & talking, eating organic fruits/vegetables, drawing, music (playing guitar, ukulele, trumpet, & listening to various artists)

Guilty Pleasure?

I don’t feel guilty about my natural pleasures.
I love reading. Here are some of my recent favorite books:
Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My Life on The Road by Gloria Steinem
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

More information about Adam Jonah’s artwork and projects can be found on his website.

Thank you, Adam!