Teen Interview #18

Dominick McCluree, 18


Where are you from and what do you do?

I live in Olympia, I just dance and go to school a lot.

Is there a big dance or art community in Olympia?
No, Olympia is like a dead town. I know there’s this one vampire bar, where all the lights are out and the windows are tinted; there’s a lot of interesting people there.

How did you get into Tacoma’s art scene?
A long time ago I was a skunk in a Winnie the Pooh play, and one of the people in the play went to Tacoma School of the Arts (TSOTA). After she introduced me to it I began going there and slowly my whole life switched to be up here.

How long have you been dancing?
I started dancing when I was three, but then two years ago my dance teacher took me to Pittsburg with a bunch of other people and it switched my perspective. So I’ve been really focused on dance for the past two years.

What is the most interesting part of dancing to you?
There are the hours you put into training because it takes a lot of physical form, but I think my favorite part of dance is when you get on stage and you let everything go. You’re just trying to be as vulnerable as you can to whoever is out there and try to connect with them.

Like you said dance seems very personal and powerful. When you are dancing you said you try to connect with people, is that ever difficult to do because dance is so vulnerable?
Yeah, it took a really long time to figure out how to be vulnerable but not read to other people.

You have to switch being vulnerable to yourself and being vulnerable to people in the audience, which is completely different. It’s hard to learn the difference between the two, and how to respect them because they are so important, while still showcasing what you need to in the moment.

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How have you taken your dance out into the community?
I do a lot of performances with my school, and we compete. Recently I’ve been traveling a lot out of state, going to dance conventions and things like that. However, I’m working on my senior project at school right now, so I’ve been working a lot with other dancers in Tacoma that I don’t know. To put together pieces for our show, my friend is making all the music for it which is really cool.

Dance can sometimes feel secluded to people who aren’t involved in it, how do you think people can interact with dance?
There’s been a lot of studies that show how dance can improve your cognitive skills when you’re younger. So, I want people to go out and see dance in whatever form, whether is it’s a school show or they just see someone dancing on the street. I want people to interact by putting their kids into dance because it’s so good for them.

Would you say you make art for yourself or the community?
The one hard thing with dance is that when you’re younger, you have to dance in companies and make a name for yourself; I feel like it’s hard to say if I’m making work at this point for myself or the community. But I definitely want to engage with the community and I want as many people to get involved in dance as possible. Because it’s such an elitist thing, you have to go to a studio and train and all of that. I want as many people to be given the opportunities that I was afforded before I leave for college.

What is your current plan for the future?
It mostly involves moving to New York next year and hoping that I don’t end up homeless. But if I do it’s okay. Some people have these really big aspirations for dance, like, ‘oh I want to start a company,’ but I just want to dance and live off of it. I don’t really care what form that takes, and I’d love to teach at some point.

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Would you say that the art world needs to be more connected?
Yeah, I think there needs to be more cross-collaboration. There are so many different aspects to different art and I wish that everyone would work together a little bit more. And, put on shows with musicians working with dancers or photographers. There are so many cool ways to come together and I want to see them all become cohesive.

What are some steps to expand the art community in your opinion?
I think it’s all about outreach. The more you can get it out there and the more accessible you can make it for people who wouldn’t have the opportunities to experience art is a super important part. Just getting it out there so people can do it.

You mentioned collaborating, does SOTA include a lot of that?
Yeah, for the dance concert we’re doing in the spring, everything that we’re performing to is sung by the choirs at our sister school SAMI. There’s a lot of collaboration, especially in the dance department, our teacher likes to get us to collaborate. So that’s cool, and the students really like to work together.

Have you played around with any other art forms?
I was a skunk in Winnie the Pooh so I acted when I was eight, but I’ve been pretty dance-centric since the seventh grade.

How does the type of music influence your dancing?
I think there are the really obvious differences in genres, like if Kendrick’s playing you’re not going to be doing ballet and all that, but the lines are getting muddled on that in the dance world. It’s slowly becoming more and more able to play around. I think It’s mostly about listening to the music and trying to figure out what that artist is trying to put forth, and you try to visually tell that story as well.

What is art to you?
I feel like art is very hard to define because it means different things to so many people. But, for me, it’s just an expression of oneself that they are feeling confident enough to put out into the world. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot to it, walking across the street can be art if somebody is doing it with the intent to show other people.

What message do you try to convey through your dance?
I try to stick to more hopeful pieces, it’s such a crazy time in our world right now. There’s so much hate and I try to focus on uplifting and hopeful messages. I would say I just try to convey a message if anything.

Do you think the Tacoma art community right now is representative of who is creating art? Do you think it’s an inclusive space?
Yeah, I think it’s a really small space, and it’s hard to break into it and really get involved. Most of the artists I know outside of my school are really involved in the Seattle art scene. But, the people I know that are in the Tacoma art scene are super welcoming and super inviting. I think it’s a very small group and the outreach that’s being done is very new in Tacoma, so I think it’s getting bigger, and it’s been really cool watching that happen. I just think it’s really small right now, but it’s definitely inclusive.

Have you found it difficult to put yourself in the art scene and to discover your own talents?
Yeah, I think it’s really hard coming from Olympia to Tacoma. I left a lot of the Olympia connections from the art scene I was in at the time. So, I’ve been trying to find it and I think I found my niche this year and where I belong in it. I’ve danced my whole life, my mom is really into art so I grew up with it. So when you see people who didn’t grow up with art around them and they’re just starting to discover it, it’s important to support them and help them explore more.

How has dancing helped you?
It’s so cliche, but dance really gave me a purpose. I have a really hard time in school, paying attention and being interested, just because math and science aren’t really my thing. But, dance has always been something that I feel like I can focus on, and no matter what I’m doing it gives me something to work toward and get validation from it.

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Watch out for applications to be part of the Teens In Tacoma Collective soon!

 

 

Teen Interview #9

Syierra Shandle, 16


 Why did you get into art?

It was one of those accidental things, I definitely had a thing for art. Like in elementary school I was drawing. And then in middle school, I got in that photography stage. It was the eighth grade was where I was like, yeah I’m really set on photography. But it wasn’t til ninth grade when I got accidentally placed in a film class and it was something I couldn’t switch out of, and I was like,” That’s so dumb! Why am I here?”, when I was supposed to be doing photography but ended up taking the course and I loved it! But then I saw there were more aspects of being a director, or photographer. I found this book at the back of my classroom. It was Screenplay writing for Dummies. I kind of read it, highlighted text, everything. And then I fell in love with the art of creating a movie I guess.

When would you say your creative process started?

I’ve always been a creative person. Maybe throughout my elementary years. It’s just something that I’ve been told that I was, and I liked hearing it. Definitely those early in ages.

What are your plans for your next moves?

So I’m moving to Germany in September, something I like to talk about. And I’m interested in going to their MET FILM SCHOOL out in Berlin. Hopefully, I’m able to progress my skills there but people tell me a lot that Screenplay writing specifically is just something you need to take the time to do, and you don’t need school for that. But you know.

Would you consider yourself primarily a photographer or writer?

Good question. I like being called an independent filmmaker, or a screenplay writer. It depends on who I’m talking to because I’ll just switch back between the two of them.

Do you make this work specifically for yourself, or do you want to share it with others?

A little bit of both. There’s something about that satisfaction that you get when you do something and you are proud of it. I’ve had those times just like anybody else where I’m just like unsatisfied with my work. And it’s more so for people rather than yourself, and then there are other times where I’m really proud of myself and I see future in it.

Do you feel like more teens should have the opportunity to share their artwork?

Of course. Totally. We are the next generation so when you have a bunch of people that are willing to do something artistically, why not have that? Because that’s something I don’t see a lot in the earlier generations.

How would you define art?

Art is the person that is doing it. It is a word that you can take within yourself. I’m art. We all are. It’s just a magical word.

Whats the most important thing to consider when creating something?

Definitely staying true to who you are. I’ve learned throughout my years of schooling that people are so quick to guide you in a direction that they think is perfect. But no one knows perfect but yourself. Your definition of perfect is true to you and that’s genuine and I think that’s really important when being an artist.

Walk us through the meaning of one of your favorite works.

I’ve written a film called LOVER. And it’s about someone who is taking this idea of love and discarding it because they’re impatient. And then it’s just going through all the lovely aspects of love, and just totally like. . .I don’t know its one of those things because I’m always in my feelings.

Where do you look when you feel unmotivated?

That’s the funny part when I feel unmotivated I don’t feel like I have anything that I listen to so. I don’t have a favorite director or a genre of the sort. Things that inspire me are people’s sentences and words. And I’m like hey, I can make a film out of that. Sometimes I get the title before I get the story and that’s always helpful. I don’t know it’s just something that always comes to me when I least expect it.

What most excites you about your future?

I’ll be in a totally different community and that’s always exciting. I was told that traveling is an important part of living, and I guess that part, where I get to share my work with other people from different countries, is outstanding. So yeah, I’m just excited for the future and what it has for me.

Do you feel that there needs to be a push towards programs that highlight Teens?

I think stuff like this. When its made by people our own age its comforting and inviting and it’s like hey these people are trying to help is and I think if we had more of these things. Especially if it was student ran its be more easy for people to be not so closed in or introverted when sharing their art.

 

Read Syierra’s work here: LOVER

Want an interview? Go here to apply!

Make sure to save the date for our April art show at Tacoma Art Museum April 19th 6-8pm, submissions and more info coming soon!

Teen Interview #6

Samantha Allshouse, 17

How did you get into art?

Through my best friend, she is a lot more artistic than I am, and she kind of showed me  different forms of art. I wanted to do the same thing but in my own style. I just want to portray my thoughts in a way that people visualize.

What artist(s) would you say has been the biggest influence on your art?

Probably Rich Chigga and Mac Demarco; they both influence my style. They’re so completely different and it helps me because I find a place in the middle that balances their two styles. Mac Demarco’s style is kind of laid back, I’d say, which reflects my personality. And Rich Chigga is such a goofy rapper. I just try to find that balance of laid back, but also goofy and humorous.

What would you say defines the perfect picture in your eyes?

That question does not have an answer. There are so many places a picture can go, depending on what emotion you are trying to portray or what picture you are trying to display or what meaning. The perfect picture is the picture you can get creative with. I guess you could say, with right framing or lighting. The model could pose a certain way. It’s really up to what image you are trying to display.


Would you say mental illness is taken more seriously in teens, rather than adults?

Yes and no, because there are different types of communities in teens that react to mental illness.  While there are some people who advocate for mental illness and it’s a really important thing to touch on. But there’s another community who thinks it’s humorous, and you can see it . . . things like “Oh kill yourself,” that type of stuff so there’s definitely two communities that see it differently.

How do you incorporate this into your photography?

I try to get ideas of how people describe their mental illness and put it in a way that people can visualize it. Because I don’t think people understand it and in photography, you try to put it in a visual way so you don’t have to think it out too hard.

What programs or organizations do you wish you had when you initially started photography?

I wish I had a group of friends that had a mutual like for photography because it would be so helpful to get hints and tips. Different ideas from a group of people because sometimes the best education isn’t from professionals, but people who can review it and bounce off ideas. So any friend group of people with mutual interests.

What is your favorite work you’ve done so far?

Probably the shoot with the balloons because it has a lot of meaning. I mean all my other photography . . . a lot of it is just portraits. But the one of my friend with the balloons . . . portraying mental illness just because it has a deeper meaning. 

How do you think Tacoma could benefit from the awareness of mental illness in Teens?

More education is really important because a lot of people don’t know. The reason for depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain. But a lot of people don’t understand that or when people say “Get over it.” Teens need to understand it’s not just a “Get over it,” type of thing so teens need more education on it, and need to be able to talk about it more.

“I try to get ideas of how people describe their mental illness and put it in a way that people can visualize it.”

Why is it important that we listen to teen voices in Tacoma?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And with that, there are always new things to see in the world. New ideologies. New ways to see things. and sometimes adults don’t have that same mindset. They weren’t raised in a certain way but they can’t see things like you do. But with people in the same generation as you, they have such a different but similar experience.

How do you think teens can benefit from a network where they communicate about art, events, and etc.

Different ideas, different styles for me come around different things every day. I love to learn about art, education from word of mouth. Everyone could benefit from learning about what’s going on in other people’s heads.

How has culture made itself known in your art?

started art really recently. I started ceramics; I’ve done painting. But it’s been a hobby type of thing, nothing to take seriously. But I’ve been held back by my family and parents. Because math and science are the only true subjects and you can’t benefit from art at all. But now that I’m a bit older, I can do whatever I want. I’ve started to invest my time in finding different ways to express myself

Do you see yourself in the future still regarding art as a hobby?

I’m very split on that. I definitely would love to go into film-making. In silent films, you can express so much emotion and feeling. I’m split on that and getting an education degree. While I teach around the world I can do photography as a side job, so I really plan on keeping art in my profession.

For more of Sam’s art check out her Instagram @sam.qall

If you want to share your passion with the Tacoma art community, email or dm us for interviews, job information, our to send us your art! Also, make sure to come to January’s F.O.A.M, an event of art where teens can come and hangout; it goes from 6-8pm at Tacoma Art Museum every third Thursday!

Teen Interview #5

Giovanni Monarrez, 17


What school do you go to?

I go to Tacoma School of the Arts.

Do you feel like you have more privilege in the arts by going to Sota?

Oh yeah definitely, that’s why my senior project is to help other students at different high schools that aren’t in SOTA, Sami, or Idea. It’s because I want to help them get the benefits that I’ve experienced all four years. I want to help them experience the art community the way I’ve experienced the art community. And to be able to get their name out there, when I already had a foot in the door as soon as I got accepted into SOTA.

Do you feel like you are more inspired at Sota?

The school doesn’t inspire me, but it is the people there. The people I viewed last year were also illustrators, and I got to see how they drew and what inspired them; seeing their style really inspired me to want to go further. And this year since they graduated, there has not been barely any illustrators whatsoever. I feel like I have been a rut recently so I’ve been trying to find more people to give me that inspiration. Like what to do.

What can you always go back to, that inspires you?

Honestly, I want to say anime. I started drawing pictures of it. I’ve always liked anime so sometimes when I’m bored I’d always go back to drawing that. And there’s Naruto, and doing different styles and whatnot. I love the logo of the 90s. I like how blocky it was; clothes being blocked. It just looks nice. It’s something I put in my work. A lot of my friends tell me my art looks like 90s anime. Stuff like that. I like to do that. Especially how I draw my clothes.

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What mediums do you involve yourself in?

I involve myself in traditional illustration, such as graphite and pen, and whatnot. But I’m really into doing marker stuff, like a colored marker. Recently I’m trying to figure out how to blend marker together and whatnot. And I love watercolors; I love it but I hate it. I love coloring in blocks, but once it comes to layering on top of each other and going from light to dark, instead of dark to light it really throws me off. So,  I’m still trying to figure that out. Acrylic occasionally, I go with acrylic because of how fast it dries. I hate the long waiting of painting. Acrylic is one of my favorites to go with because you can go from dark to light right away.

Where do you want your art to go?

Dang man, I want it to go everywhere. I was talking to Daniel about it, I’m trying to get into Cornish right now like I want to go there so bad because it is basically like Sota. But so much more it feels like a place where I can really improve on what I want to do. I want to be able to make a living off my artwork. I want to be able to support myself by selling my art either through prints, shirtmaking, stickers. Either me selling my art to companies as logos, doing commissions for other people. I just want to be drawing, I just want to create something for people to see and to use. In the long run, I want to inspire others the way others inspired me because a lot of my art is a combination of other peoples art. I see something that they do and I try to implement it into my style, but not like stealing. Either the way the strokes look in the drawing, how jagged their lines are, or how sharp they are. And so one day I hope people look at my stuff and are able to say “I want to do what they’re doing, let me add that to my own style.”

“I love the logo of the 90s. I like how blocky it was; clothes being blocked. It just looks nice. It’s something I put in my work.”

What is your favorite piece so far?

It’s this piece I made when I was actually a freshman. So the reason why I’d pick that one is that when I applied to Cornish, you have to make a portfolio you know, so  I had to look through my big pieces and all of my sketchbooks from freshman year till now. So when I was a little 14-year old I was a little, a little sad boy. Like I was really emotional. And a lot of that affected my art at the time. So as a freshman I had just moved to Tacoma from Hawaii, I lived in Hawaii since I was 6 until I was 13. It was a complete change for me and 8th grade was such a crazy time over here, the big shift. I actually didn’t want to go to Sota, because it was hard for me to make friends here, I didn’t want to make new friends at a new school. But once I got in I was like I’ll deal with it and make friends.

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I wanted to capture the feeling and emotion of that time. Pretty much sad boy vibes. I’m here in a place I’m not used to, I’m just kinda stuck.

How does your culture influence your art?

I don’t think my culture.Well, I’m Mexican, and I don’t think it really is implemented in my drawing that much. Id say the only way it is, is because I like the way Cholos are dressed so I draw them a lot. And my middle name is Aztlan. I use it for my Instagram. It’s the name of where the Aztecs came from and I’d say that’s the only place where my culture is implemented into my art. That name is branded on what I draw. The reason why I drew it like that, was because I was thinking of certain types of artist’s brush in Mexico. The way they use the stroke from thin to thick. The colors they use. The whole aspect of that. I was really entranced by it.

What is your favorite artistic event you’ve gone to in Tacoma?

I’d say Teen night, the first one, the first Teen night, because I was actually hired by TAM. I was a portrait artist. That was the first time I was ever paid for my art, and it was the first time I did what I wanted to do. It was also my first paycheck I ever got. It was in November, of 2016. It was great because I was able to draw people and I was making buttons and I remember one of the guys was mad at me because he didn’t want to make my buttons. Phylicia ended up making them for me.That was great. They were inappropriate so I guess it makes sense.

What demographic comes to mind when you think of art museums?

I think of families. A lot of families go to art museums, little kids, and their parents, or people going on dates, old people. I think a variety. But I don’t think about teenagers that much. Teens only go to it if they’re into the art. And if they are doing something that involves art. The majority is families with little kids  I feel like little kids appreciate those things the most out of everyone else.

How do you think Tacoma could benefit from the voices of teens?

I feel like with this generation we are a lot more open-minded than previous generations. We are all pretty casual people, honestly, either casual or super intense, but that’s a good mix.I think, a good yin-yang, super casual and super hyped people. I feel Tacoma would really benefit from seeing the different aspects of everyone, a more unified community but also a very diverse one. I feel they are already doing that in some senses but it would be much more if they listened to what kids had to say. If they allow us to show what we can do instead of just seeing us as just teenagers. If there were more Teen Night type events, more stuff like that where teens can come together. Like hey perform for us, and show us what you can do with drawing; draw people if you want, all this and that. I feel Tacoma can benefit from that,  Like-minded people with a good sense of heart. I feel like it would draw more likeminded people with a good sense of heart to the city. It [Teen Night] was cool too, while I was drawing at TAM I met some people and they followed me and I followed them. Like I said, it‘s a good place where people can connect with each other, and still be diverse in the same way.

Follow Giovanni on Instagram @_aztlan_

Also, check out Tacoma Art Museum’s F.O.A.M & Teen Night two great events for teens!