While some 12-year-olds are starting to get the hang of drawing, Sasha Matthews is already using her artistic chops to make a difference.
The young New York City-based artist –– and author of two self-published comics, Sitting Bull: A Life Story, and Pompeii: Lost and Found –– started a project called Everyday Superheroes a month and a half ago. The purpose of the project is to create and sell illustrations in order to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"I was pretty bummed about current events such as the election," Sasha said to A Plus. "So I actually wanted to do something about it instead of just sitting around and moping."
The project is inspired by another artist, George O'Connor, and his commissioned images of Greek mythological characters.
"I encouraged Sasha to think about whether she would like to do something like [O'Connor's project] and if she would, how she might want to do it with her own kind of style," Sasha's father, Scott Matthews, said to A Plus.
In order to create and commission drawings, people who want one contact Matthews with their special interests, favorite colors, and pictures of themselves. Sasha said that the people she draws always have "normal clothes with a touch of something special on them."
As of right now, the project has raised $2,588 and has attracted attention from many people, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, who tweeted a link to a story written about Sasha.
The ACLU also caught wind of her initiative. In an email to A Plus, Liz FitzGerald, the ACLU's director of special gifts, said the organization is "thankful to Sasha for choosing to support the ACLU through this project," citing that many of their supporters and activists are "everyday superheroes."
FitzGerald also added that "with someone like Sasha already engaging in the fight for civil liberties, we know that the future of our work is in good hands!"
As for the people who have asked for a drawing, Maya Rachel Stein commissioned a drawing, below, for her partner Amy Tingle for her birthday. Stein said she was happy that Sasha's mission aligns closely with the views their own arts business, The Creativity Caravan, has on the creative world.
"I couldn't help but want to honor both Amy's tireless advocacy for empowerment through art, and Sasha's deeply inspiring and motivating efforts to make an impact in the world through her own creative expression," she said to A Plus in an email.
When it comes to negativity, Sasha has received very few hate comments from people who have called her a "little snowflake" and a "superzero," according to Matthews. But Sasha doesn't let any of that bother her. Instead, she focuses on the positive things she's gained from this experience so far.
"It's really kind of an educational experience in a way," she said. "I now know what an astrophysicist might be interested in or I know what a fencing uniform looks like. I really think that learning about people's specific interests is a really cool thing to do for me."
And at the end of the day, she only has one goal.
"The most important part of the project is to show people how they are powerful as superheroes," she said.