Annual Juried Youth Exhibition

Since 2006, MOPA has held an annual juried exhibition showcasing the photographic talents of local youth. Every year, students are encouraged to submit work that responds visually to a particular theme. The winning entries are selected for their creativity and artistic interpretation of that year’s topic.

YX21 Call For Entries

Theme: “SPACE”

  • MOPA encourages you to be creative with your interpretation of the theme!
  • How do you think about SPACE? Outer space? Inner space? Open space? Personal space?
  • Share your unique perspective on space through photography or video!
  • Check out our video on ways to interpret “SPACE!”
  • Free to enter!

Submission deadline: March 16, 2021 at midnight

Click for more information and to enter!

Teachers – Check out our Lending Library for cameras to use in your classroom!

How to Get Started

  • Change your mindset about photography.
    • Get past literal interpretations of taking a photo. Approach this project actively and creatively.
      • A literal interpretation means: I’m going to take a picture of a car or a tree
      • A creative approach means:  I’m not going to take a photo of something, I will MAKE a photo that communicates an idea.
  • Get inspired through our Photo Club challenges! Experiment with projects that can take your photos to the next level!
  • Understand the theme. What comes to your mind when you think of SPACE? Outer space? Exploration? Inner space? Personal space? Wide open space? Confined space? 
  • Be authentic. Make work that reflects who you are and what’s important to you.
  • Don’t discount your voice just because you have not practiced communicating it visually. Find a way to get across what you want to say using a camera combined with your other strengths. Contemporary art – in photography and in other mediums – is about ideas, not perfect art technique.
  • Stick to it. What if your photo doesn’t come out well? Making a good anything is about persistence. You try, you assess and critique – identify what you did worked and what didn’t – and you try again.



Important updates during closure
While MOPA is temporarily closed, we are busy at work to keep our Youth Exhibition program going!  Please check back here for updates! If you would like to join our Youth Exhibition mailing list, please email us at

Updates for YX20: Growing Up
We regret the delay in featuring the outstanding work from our YX20 selected youth artists! MOPA is still closed to the public, but we have not stopped planning for this important exhibition.  YX20: Growing Up will now hang alongside the selected works from YX21: Space as part of a first-ever dual Youth Exhibition! This innovative show is scheduled for May 22, 2021 through February 6, 2022.

Updates for YX19: Dreamscapes
Thank you again to all of our participating artists from Dreamscapes!  The shutdown happened just as we were beginning the process of returning artwork to our exhibited artists.  If you were unable to pick up your artwork before we closed, please know that we are keeping it safe!
Artwork can be picked up by appointment beginning 12/14/20 as MOPA remains closed to the public.  Pick-up times and days  are limited to the following: Mondays from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm and Fridays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. To make an appointment, email






Explore Previous Youth Exhibitions

Image of Crescendo by Rayann Valenzuela
Rayann Valenzuela, 2019

2019: Dreamscapes

An exploration of the subconscious and the ways in which we perceive dreams. The featured photographs highlight individual and collective hopes, fears, and future inspirations


Madysen Adler, 2017

2018 Reverberate: Sound and Image
The student artworks explore a range of ways that we engage with and relate to sound.  For some, music and language evoke memories and connections to family and culture. For others, the sounds of the city and the voices of others are overwhelming and chaotic.  Some may not hear sounds at all, but feel and see them through vibration and resonance.

2017  Defining Boundaries
Youth artists explored a range of topics including physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, and societal boundaries in MOPA’s 12th Annual Youth Exhibition. Some artworks show boundaries as positive and protective, while others show them as limiting and binding.

Mark Cahill, 2016

2016  Animals Among Us
Inspired by the San Diego Zoo’s 100th anniversary, MOPA’s 11th Annual Youth Exhibition asked students in San Diego County and Tijuana to respond to the theme of animals through photography or video.


Silvia Shalom, 2015

2015 Self/Reflection
MOPA’s 10th Annual Youth Exhibition asked students to explore their identity in a photograph. This exhibition was open to students throughout San Diego County and Tijuana.


Gabriel Wilson, 2014

2014 We Are Family
MOPA’s 9th Annual Youth Exhibition asked young people to use lens based media to explore what “family” means to them.

2013 My City, Your City
MOPA’s 8th Annual Youth Exhibition encouraged students to use photography or video to explore the meaning of home and community.

2012 Photosynthesis
MOPA’s 7th Annual Youth Exhibition asked students to communicate important ideas about the environment and sustainability.

2011  See/Saw
MOPA’s 6th Annual Youth Exhibition represented the most creative and original works of art produced by students who participated in a MOPA education program.

2010 Reflections
MOPA’s 5th Annual Youth Exhibition asked students to explore their culture and cultural identity through photography and film. This exhibition was open to students throughout San Diego County.