Since Caroline Hambright could hold a pencil, she was obsessed with capturing the world around her. While the other kids in grade school were practicing cursive, Hambright was already creating reflections of her surroundings and becoming fascinated with a hobby that she would eventually turn into a career. After spending the first 10 years of her life in Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, Hambright moved to the boho-chic city of Santa Barbara where she never thought she would be accepted. But little did she know that Santa Barbara would not only accept her, but celebrate her as one of the most wonderful artists in the area.
Following her passion for art, Hambright graduated from Santa Barbara High’s Visual Arts & Design Academy, studied art at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), and then transferred to San Francisco State where she received her BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in printmaking. Currently teaching art, math, and reading to students in Kindergarten through sixth grade at Brandon Elementary School, Hambright decided to enter the Santa Barbara’s 43rd annual artistic competition for the Summer Solstice T-shirt and poster design.
For Hambright, the Summer Solstice Parade is not just an annual festival, it is the anniversary of the moment she knew she would be accepted in a completely new environment. As a ten-year-old girl, Hambright was invited to help her sister’s dance teacher, Steven Lovelace, design the float for the parade, and it was then that she realized that everything would be “better than OK.”
She embraced the joy of summer vibes—the days are long, the weather is warm, school is out—and created an astounding work of art, “Solstice Universe,” in which she entered into a pool of hundreds of competitors.
Her masterpiece captures the happiness of unity and togetherness that energizes the Santa Barbara atmosphere, and tells the story of her experience with her first Solstice Parade. The Sun is the conductor of the orchestra, and resembles Steven Lovelace; one of Hambright’s favorite local artists and a Solstice Veteran, Pali X, takes the form of Jupiter; DJ Darla Bea, Hambright’s old friend, is spunky Saturn; and the other characters and celestial bodies are amalgamations of people she has seen over the years participating in the Solstice parade.
By letting her imagination soar, fighting her fears, and celebrating the creative beauty in everything around her, Hambright’s astounding work of art is the this year’s winner for seizing the festival’s theme of “Celebrating Unity.”
Along with her recognition, Hambright will lead the Celebrating Unity Teen Camp in which the students will create a float for the parade that features the artwork titled “Solstice System.”
For more ways on how you can get involved in this year’s festivities, visit the Summer Solstice Parade website here!