Meet Artist Jake Freilich and the artists of Desert Rats

Desert Rats

A group exhibition by artists from Borrego Springs High School, mentored by Jake Freilich

Urban Dictionary defines the phrase ‘Desert Rat’ as a term of endearment that refers to someone “born, raised, or who has spent most of their life in the desert and is proud of where they come from because of the beauty it holds.” The artists in this exhibition are students at Borrego High School who have been asked to create an artwork that represents their experience of living in Borrego Springs.

Urban Dictionary define ‘Rata del Desierto’  como un término cariñoso que se refiere a alguien “nacido, criado o que ha pasado la mayor parte de su vida en el desierto y está orgulloso de su lugar de origen debido a la belleza que tiene.” Los artistas de esta exposición son estudiantes de la Escuela Secundaria Borrego a quienes se les ha pedido que creen una obra de arte que represente su experiencia de vivir en Borrego Springs.

The artists in this exhibition are Carol Alvarez, Fiona Eddy, Lilly Evans, Blanca Garcia, Anna Lucia LoPresto, Cesar Ochoa, Jazmyne Siquidez, Melanie Urquidez, Nayla Villareal, Valentina Villareal, and Nikki Willingham. They were mentored through the process of creating their own exhibition by artist Jake Freilich.


Carol Alvarez

I am 17 and I have lived in Borrego Springs for the majority of my life. One thing I have noticed about this small town is the natural beauty of the desert. This inspired me to make a Desert Dream Catcher.

Naylea Villareal

I’m a student from BSHSD who really likes to do artsy stuff in my free time. I’ve liked to do it even before middle school and feel inspired to continue to become a better artist. 

Valentina Villareal

My name is Valentina, I am 14 years old. I moved to Borrego Springs in 2018 and have been learning English. Since I was little I’ve made DIY dolls. If I have an idea I do it. I enjoyed this art project because I love making jewelry. Thanks 🙂

Anna Lucia LoPresto

I chose the title of my piece as Dissilusioned. The google definition of disillusioned is expecting something to be different than it is. This is my experience of being a new student moving to Borrego.

Cesar Ochoa

Hello my name is Cesar Ochoa and I am 17 years old. I have lived in Borrego Springs my entire life and am currently a senior in high school. I enjoy listening to music and spending time with family and friends. 

Jazmyne Siquidez

Melanie Urquidez

Hello! My name is Melanie and I’m a high school student at Borrego Springs High School. I’ve lived my whole life under the sun in this small town. I’m grateful to be a part of the CandleWood festival.

Nikki Willingham

My name is Nikki Willingham, I’m 16 years old and in 11th grade! I started creating when I was little. I’m currently a self-proclaimed photographer and digital artist. I’m someone that likes to know how things work so I think that’s what led me to the world of manufacturing. I started welding late last year, safe to say it’s been something I enjoy because I’m here now! I hope you enjoy looking at my art just as much as I loved making it!

Blanca Garcia

My name is Blanca Garcia. I’m a high school senior and I have lived in Borrego Springs all my life. I have always been drawn to art as well as the beautiful night sky of my town.

Fiona Eddy

My name is Fiona Eddy. I am 14 years old and have lived in Borrego Springs for about 4 years. The desert has slowly become what I call home.

Lilly Evans

Hi I’m Lillian Evans, from my art you would think I’m an eight year old but I’m actually eighteen and a senior in high school. My inspiration for this art piece was a memory from when me and my old friend Quintin used to sit on the roof of my old house before I moved. In those moments with him I always felt safe and happy, watching the sunrise reminded me how beautiful the world is even through all the pain and ugliness. I hope it makes you feel the same. Bye.

Jake Freilich is an artist and educator who received a BA from Bard College in 2015 and an MFA from University of Southern California in 2019. He makes paintings that explore paint’s history, utility, and capacity for movement. Since the Summer of 2020, he has been the lead organizer of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart Art Supply Kits, a project that has provided free art materials and art lessons to communities in South LA, Pico-Union, and Borrego Springs. He is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice at Prescott College. Freilich currently lives and works in Los Angeles.