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.

happy dominick

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

 

 

Teen Interview #17

Serafina Hallie, 16.


How did you get into art?

I feel like I was just kind of raised into it. My parents… especially my mom, she’s been the person to be like, “if you are able to do something and you want to do it, then go for it.“ And I’ve always been someone to create anything that I can get my hands on.  I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty. And just finding little things. Having conversations with people somehow about something in my hand-an outlet. It’s just something I’ve always loved getting in to.

What mediums do you use?

A lot. So I’m double majoring at SOTA in dance and illustration. So I do a lot of paintings and drawings- but I also make jewelry.  And I really love modern dance. I work at hilltop artists so I do glass work. Torch work. Make beads. And yeah, that’s a lot of fun.

-What do you prefer?

I feel like with everything I do I’ve always had that same feeling I’ve always craved. Just being able to do the things I am always passionate about. And with each form of art that I do, I get a different feeling; so it’s hard to compare.

What type of art do you see as an actual career?

Definitely around visual arts. So…  painting, or, I’m considering film- art- direction. Just because I’d be able to pick out how to make a film beautiful. And I’m not even into film. But just making the whole thing an experience that you get to perceive; experienc[ing] beauty. And just to play someone in an experience that’s so transparent. I want to be the person to bring them that feeling.

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What has art done in your life?

Some people write down their thoughts. Some people illustrate or dance. So I think it helps me to say things I wouldn’t say normally. It’s just kind of brought me to a place that I want to be in my life. Which is very much a relief and a privilege that I get to be able to be passionate. It means I have the resources to do so.

We saw you curated your own art show. What other events do you want to do?

Well, I’m always thinking of different events I want to host. I volunteer at all the sales at my work so I get to do customer service I guess, and talk about hilltop artists. I try to participate in SOTA events, but SOTA can get unorganized I guess [laughs]. But I am trying to plan some stuff for this summer. I think I want to host a little show because I think it’s really hard to get yourself out there as a young artist. This is why I love these interviews. But it is very much a time-consuming process. So I have ideas that I can hopefully put into action. Committing to things [is a part of the process].

What are some challenges you found on your artistic journey?

Well, I’ve lived in Tacoma my whole life and I always try to be somewhere that inspires me. I love Tacoma with all my heart, but being in one place my whole life has definitely challenged me just a little bit. Because I’m very much obsessed with traveling too. And I always want to be somewhere that inspires me. So being in the same spot… I feel like I know every corner in this city. That’s been a little challenging. Every artist has art blocks that [they] stumble into. I’m very much a person who finds something and can’t get over it. [I] Research and get invested in this thing… discover so much, and I move onto a different thing. So I usually can get through those, but it’s definitely hard to stay inspired sometimes just because I’m in one place.

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Featured in our art show at Tacoma Art Museum; opening April 19th, 6-8 PM.

“Some people write down their thoughts. Some people illustrate or dance. So I think it helps me to say things I wouldn’t say normally.”

Are these challenges portrayed as themes in your art?

No not really [laughs]. I mean my changes are much easier than other people’s challenges so I’d rather make art that’s portraying those. I also love creating art that’s scenery. I love painting places that I want to go to. I feel like creating something that represents where I want to be kind of brings me there. Or brings me closer to that place. And also letting the viewer’s mind go to that place where I presented it for them.

What’s the difference between looking at someone and drawing them?

Looking at someone’s face I can admire their features. But observing them to the point where I’m drawing or painting them, lets me build a relationship with their features. So I might get to know this person just by staring into their eyes and creating them with some other medium that’s not a three-dimensional human in front of me.


How do you know if a piece of work is done?

I mean I guess that’s luck when I figure that out. I think I make the mistake of continuing a piece so many times because I’m so excited to get into it and it turns into something else. Whether it’s a simplistic piece or a complex piece, when it’s come to the point where I can look at it and where it’s accomplished what I want all my art pieces to accomplish then I know it’s done. But that says only a little bit because who knows? I could go in tomorrow, and say that, ‘ah I need to change that.’ It’s whenever I look at it and decide its message is complete and clear-but that could change.

Why is it relevant for teens to get involved in their community?

I think when anyone is able to bring awareness or bring someone nostalgia, that’s an amazing thing. And if anyone has the ability to do that, that’s a very special thing. Especially teenagers, I feel like our generation is seen as the narcissistic, smartphone generation. And bringing passion into other people’s lives, and being able to have that passion inside of you is a very important thing to bring into the community around us.

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“Whether it’s a simplistic piece or a complex piece, when it’s come to the point where I can look at it and where it’s accomplished what I want all my art pieces to accomplish then I know it’s done.”

What should teenagers do right now to build a network?

Don’t be afraid of taking action with your ideas. The reason I had an art show, was because I had no way of getting my art out there. So if you have an idea, take action with it. It can be difficult, but there are so many other kids with your same position. Do what you want. If you are organized enough, passionate enough, you will be able to do something so great. Do what you want to do, and so much more progress will be made.

Go Follow Serafina on Instagram @diglycerides

Don’t forget to come to Teen Night, April 21st, 7-10 PM.

Teen Interview #16

Brook Jones, 17.


What school do you go to?

I go to stadium.

What is your advice to students who don’t have the privilege of going to a school that supports them?

I’d say that asking-and just being in public, in general, and you’ll start to notice or hear conversations. And, just making sure that you’re out in public all the time and try to be a part of the community. [It] will help you do any of your art successful[ly].

What do you consider to be music?

Music is abstract, it’s whatever noise makes you feel something. But I don’t think that screaming is always music. I guess that’s my answer, just noise that makes sense to you. It doesn’t have to make sense to someone else.

How did you start music?

I just started playing piano by myself in third grade, just messing around. Then I took guitar lessons in fifth grade, and from then it’s just been figuring out whatever I feel and doing whatever since then.

What genre is your favorite?

I think it just depends on the time of day and the mood. Of course I listen to what I play, which is indie-rock type of stuff. I also listen to a lot of jazz, and… I enjoy all types of music. You have bluegrass, jazz, rock, indie-rock…I don’t really like classic rock, that’s the only thing I don’t really like [laughs].

“Music is abstract, it’s whatever noise makes you feel something.”

Are you a solo artist or are you in a group?

It’s kinda both. I have my own solo thing but even that is with a band. I’m in quite a few others with friends.

How many bands are you in and what are their names?

Bath Toys is the most obvious answer, and then I have my own group which is Fantastic Fogman. And, then my friend Christian’s group, which doesn’t play a lot, is Baja Boy. [Christian] He’s the drummer of Bath Toys and then I play bass in a band called Slog, with Zach. And, then I have a band with my friends Croix and Christian where I play bass and sing, and that’s Heathers Sweater. Then, my friend Peter and I, we rarely do things, but we have one [a band] called the Six String Guitar Fish.

What type of music do you cover?

In these specific bands…Bath Toys is indie-rock type deal, very modern. Fogman is more folky and jazzy, but also rock sometimes. And Heathers Sweater is kind of, like acid rock, like Black Sabbath kind of stuff, and Slog is just a hardcore punk band. Six String Guitar Fish is more folky. And then I play bass in general, so I play jazz gigs occasionally, and just playing bass for random people too.

Describe playing in a band in three words.

‘Arg,wow, cool.’

What’s the difference between being solo and being in a band?

I think that when you’re doing things by yourself you may still feel like…The ‘arg’ is supposed to be like anger and ‘wow’ is amazement, and ‘cool’ obviously means that it’s cool. So, you feel all of those being solo and in a band but when you’re in a band its [emotions] are very noticeable and tend to be more outward because you’re with others. But, if you’re by yourself it’s more internal thoughts.

We interviewed another musician. He’s a solo artist and in a band. He mentioned that being solo means you feel your own emotions, and when you’re in a band you feel everyone else’s. Is that true?

Yeah, I think that’s true. When you are a solo artist, even if you are playing with a band, you’re usually directing everyone and the songs are much more personal. So, when I play in my solo band I definitely feel more of my own emotions. And, when I play in a band and I’m playing, like, Zach’s song, it’s definitely feeling more of his emotions.

 

Why do you continue to do music?

I kind of said this earlier with what being an artist means, I write songs and music to try to figure out my own emotions. Whether that’s writing a song to try and figure out how I feel… a lot of times I won’t really figure out the song that I’m writing until months later, and then I can better understand my emotions. Or, I’ll switch instruments. Playing drums gets out a different emotion than guitar. Or, I started playing clarinet a little bit ago because I thought guitar had gotten boring, so I just try to apply different types of music to try to figure out myself.

What do you define as art?

I think art is just…any sort of expression of the soul. That’s a simple way to put it.

How have you been able to share your art with others?

This also goes back to a question earlier, just being involved with the community. You need to do that to share your art. Any sort of community, like I said, just getting out of your house but, being in a community online, following artists on instagram, or making tags on your Bandcamp. You have to be involved. It’s very uplifting and helps a lot with art.

Do you have a place in Tacoma that significantly supports teen art?

I think as far as music goes, Real Art, is an obvious one. They really support teens, and everyone because it’s an all ages venue, but especially teens because it’s a really good beginning place to go if you’re in a band and just getting started. Also King’s Books, there’s a lot of shows there that I’ve gotten to be a part of too, where I can do visual art and music.

“I think art is just…any sort of expression of the soul. That’s a simple way to put it.”

How can teenagers or others help expand the art community in Tacoma?

I think reaching out. Also it’s a different kind of being part of a community, instead of just being in a community for yourself, being in it for others.

Why is it important that Tacoma supports teen artists?

Because, we are building the future and art is the most important thing.

Do you have plans for what you’ll do in the future?

I think I’ll just continue to figure myself out. Maybe I won’t be a musician, maybe I’ll end up making hella t-shirts. But, whatever happens I’ll always be doing art. By either staying in Tacoma and recording a lot and/or touring, or maybe I’ll just be a studio musician living in LA, and that’s the last of my hopes. But if that’s where it takes me, then that’s where it takes me. Wherever I find myself comfortable to keep doing my art, then that’s what I’ll do.

Make sure to come to Teen Night!

Follow Brooke @bonkuskat on Instagram! And make sure to come to our Art Show on the 19th at TAM!

Finger Trap: A Poem About Never Compromising Your Identity

There’s enough pressure of being a teenager when engaging in all types of relationships. And, being a minority adds another complicated layer to these connections, as not everyone you meet will be able to wrap their head around the differences between communities. Dating as an Asian-American woman I have found immense struggles when dealing with someone who lacks respect for my culture. “Finger Trap” displays my emotions when thinking I could be with someone, until they started to show signs of ignorance. I have found it incredibly hard to come to terms with my differences, which often set me apart from the community I am in. And, through experiences like the one this poem, I have realized that my culture and identity cannot be compromised for anyone.


Finger Trap

Am I supposed to feel remorse?

As you go headfirst into my customs.

Unmindful of the new moon,

Stretching your mind around rooms without crosses.

Should I feel bad for not giving you an escape option?

You seem to adore my disparity,

Until your homogenous friends mouth off about my lack of familiarity,

And I become a caricature of your history book.

You secretly knew I wouldn’t be able to see through every white lie you told,

Kicking dirt into my eyes because you didn’t take off your shoes,

Wearing a large four on your head.

Should I feel bad for not turning this into your home?

Should I have hid the pictures, burning our relics in the street again?

Should I have become a mascot, for you and your awful friends?

Were you expecting me to throw away centuries of tradition for you?


Teen Interview #15

Jey Vargas, 17.


How did you get into art?

I’ve always been interested in art. It has always been a release for me, I guess, to explore myself. This kind of sounds like I’m bragging, but when people tell me, “Oh this is good, oh this is nice,” it kind of made me want to do it more. I realized as I got into advanced art programs, I was like, “Oh I want to do this for a living.” Like I want to pursue art for a career. [It] made me create more pieces and have a foundation for what I do.

Do you wish you had this opportunity when you first started doing art?

I think it would have been nice, but also I don’t think I was quite ready my sophomore year. I wasn’t that well-rounded as an artist. It was when I first started to get serious about art. At a young age I don’t think I would have been ready to put myself out there. I didn’t have enough pieces back then. I think where I am now is when I’m starting to look more into art interviews, putting myself into interviews. Now is when I’m ready, and now is when the opportunities are coming.

JEY
My heart belongs to you only

What are your plans for your career?

I do mostly paintings, but I actually want to do animation and character design as a career. So I want to pursue living in Los Angeles and trying to get in that little network. But I want to go to an art college, near Pasadena, in Los Angeles. It’s called Art Center, College for Design.

Do you have a particular artist that you look up to?

Not really. In my art classes we focus on researching a lot of artists and finding inspiration. I love Frida Kahlo, I’m Mexican. But I don’t ever look at work and try to reproduce it, even it’s for the sake of learning. I just do whatever I do. So I’ve never really thought about an artist that I want to compare myself to.

Why do you think Frida Kahlo was so influential?

I think it was because, at the time, she was very different from the other artists. She was a really strong, independent woman and was not about letting others tell her what to do. She would do whatever. She would dress masculine or feminine. I’m pretty sure she was bisexual, let’s just be clear. She really explored herself and used her art to represent her own self. Created images of her life and her dreams, and they were not always the most pretty looking things. And that’s why I always look up to her. A lot of my work focuses on me showcasing my experiences and what I get inside, and I just hope that other people will see it and relate to that, or see themselves represented as well. I think that’s what she strives [to do]. So I guess that was what was different about her at the time.

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Male

Why do you make art?

It’s almost asking what life is to an artist. I make art to explore my own self, to release emotions, to release baggage. I think I do it for myself first and foremost. So like one of my pieces was really big; it was a self-portrait. It was about my suicide attempt from last year, and when I painted that, it was like I was releasing my baggage and releasing this struggle. Putting it on a canvas to show how I felt at that time, and like, that’s it. I don’t want to think about it again. I do it for myself, but I also want to showcase my other identities being a transgender, queer, Mexican boy. I want to showcase my own culture. The transgender struggle with being queer in my artwork. Have representation. We can all be accepted. We are all people here. Have our stories be told.

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Terrified

Was there a struggle doing art with the lack of representation in the art world for you?

I think initially when I was coming out, like at the end of middle school, beginning high school, there was not really an issue. I didn’t focus on others artwork, I just focused on Frida Kahlo. That was the only Mexican I knew. I didn’t even know that there were other transgender artists, queer artists. I didn’t even know that was a big thing, a big topic I could discover and create art about. I’m in I.B (International Baccalaureate) and in my I.B classes, they push me to look at other artists, and to look at queer, Mexican, or transgender artists, or other artists of color. So I think that’s when I started to realize there was art out there, and there are other issues I can learn and create art about. Every year [the class] visits an art museum. Last year I think we visited [Tacoma Art Museum] , maybe Seattle Art Museum. I don’t know, I’ve been to both, and usually here, or in Seattle Art Museum, there are exhibits for people of color or for specific artists of color. I remember at the Henry Art exhibit there was a show on trans history. That was really nice, looking at other trans artists. I think just putting myself out and searching for what I wanted to search for, that’s when I realized there was a place for me in the art world.

“I want to showcase my own culture. The transgender struggle with being queer in my artwork. Have representation. We can all be accepted. We are all people here.”

Why is transgender and queer representation in the arts important?

I think it’s important; it’s the same reason why shows, media, and movies and all that are important. We need to have our stories be told, listened, watched, understood, in order for the rest of the world to be accepting and loving of us. I think especially trans artists and queer artists in general, it’s really important to show our stories the way we want to show it. We have to make our own films, our own writing, and our own art, based our own experiences. I don’t think anyone else can really make stories for other people, so that’s why it’s important to have representation and showcase our beauty; because art just isn’t about a pretty picture, or white, skinny, naked girls. It can be about anything. And I think since it’s about anything, we should show that at in museums, in exhibitions, you know?

Why would you rather paint something than take a photo of it?

I think the media that I use is because of the opportunities I have. I was in a photo class once. No one ever taught me Photoshop. No one ever taught me to do these things, I learned Photoshop on my own. But when I was in my art class, they really gave me the tools. You can do whatever you want with this. So that’s why I’m really multimedia. Drawing, painting. I think that’s why. Getting the tools out here, getting the ability to do these types of things [is of value].

Discuss your favorite piece.

I think one of the first big, important pieces I’ve done, because in my years that I was in art classes I mostly created pieces that were really sad, and about my struggle being trans and queer. It is a good thing, and I do like being trans, but I think I wasn’t as accepting of myself when I created that, so I needed to kind of release emotions, you know what I was saying? But I think being Mexican, I’ve been proud of being Mexican my entire life. Despite what people say, despite the media, despite racism. I’ve never really seen what was really positive about being Mexican, or Mexican culture. It’s always shared among us, but never out in the open. So I wanted to create a piece celebrating my culture, instead of focusing on the negatives. It’s called Los Flores de Mexico. So it’s like flowers that remind me of Mexico, paintbrushes, and little paint pots. Alcatraz’s are really prominent in Mexican art, so I used that to represent my Mexican side. The roses are with the hand to show my religious side. Even though I’m not really religious, it’s still is a really big part of our culture, so I wanted that to be represented. The marigolds are with the skull, and it represents our celebrations and our traditions. The skull specifically is for Dia de los Muertos; it’s a big part of our culture. I wanted to showcase all of it in a subtle way, I guess.

FLOR
Los flores de México

Why do you think it’s important to have triumphant pieces in art?

There are a lot of stereotypes about being Latina, being Mexican, being any person of color, a lot of different races. But it’s mostly surrounded in negative stereotypes. It is super important to talk about it. But, I still think it’s important to showcase our beauty and our worth. Because, if we don’t showcase our positives and what we can bring, and that we are just people, like everyone else, people are just going to focus on the stereotypes. No matter if we are combatting it or upholding it, or not. It’s all just going to be in the negative. So I think it’s just as important to remember that we have culture. We have beautiful things about us and need to put it out there.

“I think especially trans artists and queer artists in general, it’s really important to show our stories the way we want to show it. We have to make our own films, our own writing, and our own art, based our own experiences.”

Do you have an ending statement that you want to say to any teenagers, in terms of Queer issues, art, or other things?

There is a lot of intersectionality between identities. While I am Mexican, it is important to remember I am queer; I am trans. When you think about being Mexican, you think about a man or a woman. Or a cisgender, Mexican dude. When you think about being trans, you think of a white, gay, trans dude, or something like that. You don’t really remember that there are intersecting identities. I am all of these things combined, and that’s what I want people to remember.

Go follow Jey on Instagram @prettyboypaints

Teen Interview #14

Tucker Gibbons, 18.


What school do you go to​?

Gig Harbor High school.

How did you start doing photography?

How did I start? Well, I always liked to look at photos in museums — actually not museums, art galleries. I always liked to go to those especially, and I really liked grey scale photos for some odd reason. Not grey scales just overcasting though. I always liked how the greens stood out a lot. And I don’t know, I feel like … it’s a really good place for that. So, I just got a camera and got in to it. It was kind of like that.

What defines the perfect picture?

In my eyes, the perfect picture isn’t the best quality necessarily or the sharpest-whatever people want to drag on about. Even the best picture, in my opinion, doesn’t have to deal with all the rules that people drag on about. I think it has to be a photo that has meaning to the photographer. If a person can look at it and take something meaningful away from it for themselves, I think it’s a good photo.

How long have you been taking photos?

I’ve been taking photos since sophomore year. But I usually don’t post photos on my Instagram, I mostly just keep them to myself. Partially because people are really volatile on social media, and I think that often times, if you can not subject yourself to such volatile comments, then why do that?

-Do your pictures ever cause controversy?

I don’t think that my pictures cause controversy, because there’s nothing controversial about them. I think that photographers and other artists have their own style, and people seem to acknowledge that. But, some photographers do believe that their style is the right one. What those artists need to realize, in my opinion, is that if somebody has their own style, then that’s the right one for them, and they need to accept that it may not be for others. I don’t think there’s this broad end to sweep every single photo into one category. So I recognize that other photographers capture some controversial material, but I don’t believe mine does.

Do you prefer portraits or landscapes?

I’ve done a few portraits. But I think it’s kind of awkward to initiate portraits. Unless it’s someone like your friends. And most of my friends are a bit squeamish around cameras. It’s kind of awkward to say, “hey can I take photos of you?” So portraits are definitely something that I want to get into more, but I just haven’t had the chance. I like portraits though for sure.

Do you have a favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

Not really. I have like three photos and I like them all equally. One is a recent photo I took on a lake. One is a portrait. It was at a portrait shoot but the person looked away and I liked how that turned out. And then another one was in New York City, at the Audrey List, and it was really abstract and weird, and I liked that about it.

How do you feel about Gig Harbor’s photography programs?

I think that our digital program is not a bad one. People want to take it for an art credit I guess. But it’s not really something you would take and actually learn a lot about photography, you know? Whatever– I didn’t expect it to be. But we have programs, obviously, it’s just not the absolute best. I think if someone has a passion for something they should be able to put effort towards it by getting out there and doing the work themselves. I don’t think photography needs to be downright taught. Obviously, there are rules that people like to follow, but as I said, I don’t think rules make the photo. Sometimes it will speak to a person. Sometimes it won’t.

Are you looking at photography as a career?

Not as a career. Just as a side job. I think in college I’m going to try to open up and take some shoots. But I don’t think it’s going to be a career because, unfortunately… as with a lot of the arts, it’s not necessarily the safest option.

Has living in Gig Harbor influenced your photography?

Not necessarily the high school, but more so the area. Because, I think that the Gig Harbor area around the school is very pretty. And there’s a lot of places to take photos. So if you want to start taking photos you don’t really have to travel anywhere. You can take your phone, go down to the beach and kind of get going. I think that our downtown is also artsy enough for photos. There are options there you just have to look for them.

Do you engage in other mediums of art?

I play piano and guitar. And I like those two. And, drawing…I wish I could draw. What I’ve heard is that I could practice drawing, but at this point, it just seems a little too late for me.

“I don’t think photography needs to be downright taught. Obviously, there are rules that people like to follow, but as I said, I don’t think rules make the photo.”

Does your music inspire your photography?

In a sense. In a complicated, convoluted sense. I like how with say, classical music, it flows and even if it’s sharp, it’s connected and it resonates while it’s not dissonant. I think that’s what it’s like with photography. If something is out-of-place and it’s dissonant, and it doesn’t blend with the subject, it almost sticks out. So it’s like I’m just hitting a rock, and I think that’s kind of how it connects – for me at least. I think that when you listen to classical music, a lot of people experience the emotion from that. And if I can do that with photography – well, that’s what I aim to do. Because a broad spectrum of people can take something away from art that doesn’t explicitly, obviously display emotion. But there’s more to it that’s up for interpretation. People can make it what they want to make it. People can do what they want. Also, I wish that I could take a photo that’s moving. But one that isn’t a video. So, that’s where it gets confusing.

Do you think teenagers in Gig Harbor should have a new platform to express their art?

The coffee shops around the area should branch out a little bit. Maybe just an emphasis on non-professional people who don’t do it for a living. No commercial artists, just local artists doing what they like to do. I think that would kind of enhance the community. Maybe it’s possible if you were to talk to them, they’d be interested in the idea. Maybe it’s something to branch out in to?

How can people make it better for teen artists in Gig Harbor?

If you get artists together and valor, in a sense, with teens. Something in Gig Harbor. Teens in art. Maybe that wIll get people to go. Maybe just a simple art club at the high school. I know that in the photography program at my school, there isn’t a community to it. People are just doing it to get the art credit. And I know that there are people who do photography who don’t take the classes. So I think that if there were a club, you’d attract people who were passionate, and not just trying to check off a box.

Go Check out Tucker’s Instagram @tucker_gibbons !

Teen Interview #13

Madison Castro, 17.


What school do you go to?

Graham Kapowsin High School.

Has the school influenced your artwork?

I think its been supportive of a lot of students. Not necessarily me, because I haven’t put myself into the art program at my own school. [Because] it’s just kind of hobby that I do and I don’t have a lot of time or credit room to do that. But they do have elective room, elective credit, for people to use at my school for the art program. The art program at my high school is actually pretty developed and supported. They do art shows, contests or things like that. They do that pretty often compared to other school districts. Not necessarily supporting me… but that’s not their fault-it’s mine. [Because] I just choose to not include myself in that stuff. I just stick to my stuff and do my own thing.

GK has developed music programs as well. Between art and music, which one do they support more?

I think they do musical things more just because there are a lot more people who start doing musical instruments. And learning that stuff pretty early on, while art is just a thing that people don’t encourage as much because people think you can’t make a career off of it. At least not a prosperous one. So I would say that the musical program is more supportive there.

You said you don’t have credit room to do a lot of art classes. Do students at GK do Core 24?

Yes, we do. We have to get twenty-four credits to graduate high school. I don’t know how many elective credits they give you. I think they give you two a year, but a lot of those are filled by computer classes that you need to take. Or technical classes or things like that, that people need that has to do with their career. But it doesn’t give them much room to be creative in school. They [artists] do it on their own. A lot of people who really like art, do it on their own no matter what and just try their best to be a part of it in school. And show their school their talents and things. But there’s not a lot of financial support as well. With people to show off their art and learn from it and grow as people.

Had you not been in Core 24, would you be in more art classes?

I think definitely I would have. I’ve always wanted to take an art class because I’m self-taught. And I’ve always wanted to see how it’s technically supposed to be done. I don’t know. There’s a lot of ways that you can do more. I wanted to be educated on it so I can develop my skills and enhance them to a point where I’m prouder of them and I feel like I’m living up to my potential. On my own I just kind of do my best. I’m proud of it but not as much as I would be if I knew how to use the tools and things like that.

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From what the committee has seen, high schools tend to focus more on sports, rather than art. Why do you think that is?

I think that people like sports just because it’s American culture. I think I just surround myself with people who support art and musical things in school a lot. And they are very enthusiastic for that. But this school, and other school districts from what I’ve experienced, people are more enthused about sports. Because they think that it’s a team effort and a lot of people just want to be social. And they think that art is not a social thing. That you do it by yourself. But people can do art together and that’s something that people don’t realize.

Do you find the way America focuses on art, to be toxic, or beneficial?

I think that it’s less the art, more the people. The people who are doing the art. Because people are just really obsessed with the drama of it all. And it’s kind of sad how it’s turned into like… you can put up any video of yourself jumping into pool and setting it on fire or something [laughs]. And you can go viral for that and be famous years after that and it’s not really talent. It’s not really hard work. And I’m not saying that no one does that now because there are people who try to use their platforms for themselves and their own aspirations. But a lot of things with fame now, is supporting people being asinine. It’s not the art they are showing, its more the people that are doing it. And their own lives. because people can’t have their own lives. They don’t decide to. They just like watching other people’s.

Who is responsible for implementing change in Tacoma?

As we get older…the youth are the future of America. And if we support that and encourage it to its highest level, out of the years as we get older, and grow as people and we catch the mistakes being made now and learn to speak up about the things that  affected us in negative ways- we can change that. I just think it’s really important to know that even if we are young, there’s so many people who can do things. Like what you guys are doing here.

Who do you look up to that is implementing change?

I don’t think I look up to celebrities who are implementing change because I know that they do that. I’ve met a lot of educators. Musical educators and arts educators at my school and other districts and things from contests. And things that I’ve been on and meeting them. And seeing how they support their peers and people that they mentor to grow and never stop doing what they’re doing. And letting them know how important their voice in the art community and musical community and all of it. Just generally the educators I’ve met that let people know that their voice is heard.

Are there any talents you wish you had besides your current ones?

I’d like to get better at watercolor painting and oil painting. I just want to learn how to use a lot of different mediums. I just like painting in general and I’ve only ever really used watercolor and acrylic. I just use plain pencils. I don’t really use pencil pencils or anything. I just use like a school pencil. Like a number 2 pencil and go to town because I don’t even know how to use professional pens. I’ve never been taught professionally. I just do the best with what I have. And I just wish I knew how to use professional things and how that affects the art it’s supposed to look like. I just think I’m underdeveloped in some things. I know I am, and I just want to get better.

Is there a benefit to in-person teaching?

Well, considering I haven’t ever actually had in person teaching [laughs]. What I hypothesize would be… the benefit I’ve heard is that you can see it happening first hand and you can stop them and ask them what they’ve been doing in first hand. And you can stop them and ask them how they did it. And how to mimic that and how to include that in your own art style. Everyone has their own different expressions that they want to show the world. When you’re in an art class I believe they do teach how to do it one set way, but you need that knowledge. And use that knowledge to your advantage when you’re doing your own unique works. Compared to like doing it on YouTube. I’ve watched a lot of weird videos where it’s like, ‘You use this this this and this,’ and it’s usually like digital things. What if you don’t have that software? What if you can’t afford that software? So usually that’s why I like to stick with pen, pencil, and paper and it ends up looking okay, at least from what I’ve heard [laughs].

How can less privileged people build their art skills?

Personally, I didn’t have any special things to start out with. I think I had the same crayon box all throughout elementary school. [Madison’s mom] She didn’t want to buy new ones every year. She had four kids to buy school supplies for every year and that’s hundreds every year and we couldn’t afford that. So that’s how I taught myself. Using what I had was like a paper at school, like I did it on lined paper. I doodled on everything. Eventually, it was something that I asked for on special occasions, like materials. I have canvases stacked in my room currently because so many people have been kind enough to give me them, because they support me and my growth as an artist… And I think that’s what mainly drives people to keep going. The fact that they don’t have a lot and they want to see what they can do if they had… more resources. It just shows the drive that people have to express themselves, and that they are confident in their voice.

How do you look at something then decide that you want to draw it?

Mainly I like to draw people. Mainly because people are intricate and people are different. It’s fun to see how many different ways you can draw a person and how many different styles you can do it. Sometimes I get inspiration for a drawing from seeing a person and I’m like, ‘wow they look so unique!’ [Laughs] In a nice way! And I’m like, ‘wow, I wonder how I could draw that” and then I just kind of come up with it as I go and I’m like “wow, that turned out okay.” I just see people and kind of come up with it as I go. I just kind of see people. I do stuff besides people. I do some landscape things. I look at stuff for a long time because I feel [like] it helps in my mind; by just studying things a lot. My mom kind of realizes that when I do that. I just kind of space out and she’s like “are you okay?” and I’m like “yeah”. It’s just–I’m like “that’s just really beautiful” and then I go back and try to recreate it because I want people to experience the beauty I saw.

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What can Tacoma do to bring teens together?

I think that this group is definitely a good start because you guys are reaching out a lot and it’s really admirable. And I think that the way you guys are doing right now is pretty great. You guys got all the way to me and I’m in little old Graham. I’ll be sure to talk to other people about this. And I feel like we’re so close to being adults. We’re on the cusp of making huge changes, starting out by making this teen group and reaching out to teens and letting them know of their importance and that their roles in the art society matters.

Go follow Madison on Instagram ! @cas.maddie

Duck Duck Noose

Amidst the prominent issues engraved in America, racism thrives as one of them. It is considered an opinion on others, yet a curse on African-Americans alike. The very thought of acknowledging racism is an important part of the battle. The battle that captivates African-Americans, as if they were seized by the neck again.

When given the question of a national conversation, one can only look beyond the plight. A national conversation consisting of conditions, or stipulations about a new rule. In a society, where views are not smudged with systemic racism, a national debate would be lively. Two sides would engage in a historic diplomacy and would change the nation forever. Black boys would be tried as boys again, and black women could persist as polite ladies.

Alas, this is not the case in America, and without change, it never will be. A conversation like so would require a majority of people who are willing to face complications. A majority of people who are not skewed by privilege, or egocentrism. A majority of men, and women, who do not advocate for Christianity, and then defend the Confederate flag. People who demand change. A race that is not entitled to anything, but new perspectives.

In 1952, when West Germany faced the metaphorical costs of the war, “very few Germans believed that Jews were entitled to anything,”(Coates). In fact, “only 5 percent of West Germans surveyed reported feeling guilty about the Holocaust, and only 29 percent believed that Jews were owed restitution from the German people.” (Coates). I fear the percentage is deeply lower in white people, in America.

When evidence of police brutality surface or the eyes of racism become too clear, white citizens blame it on our nonsense. On our pants being too low, or our heads being too thick. When Philando Castle was shot, white people noted the video, then looked for signs of resistance. Mortified they were until they found a loophole to excuse the injustices he “deserved.” Thoughts and prayers were sent to the officer, rather than to Castle’s daughter. It was his fault because he resisted orders.

Yet, as African-Americans saw otherwise, the change was only internal. When the case was presented to the courts, the officer was left acquitted, found non-guilty on all charges. Earl Gray, a lawyer for Officer Yanez, even stated that he was “still very shook up” after the verdict, but “extremely happy it’s over” (Smith).  Even as a non-white person, the officer lost neither sleep nor morals over the case. The judge bid him adieu, and he continued to live his life. Though he took a life, he had only taken a black life, and that made the slightest difference in his conscience.

If we can’t expect non-white people in America to have remorse for black people, who do we run to? When murders are not enough to awaken a soul, or when we are seen as “brothas,” young thugs to be locked up, rather than “people with a purpose in life,” the thought of a national debate tickles us (Yankah). A conversation that would require a majority of reason, or a majority of thought. A conversation that would require white people to be sympathetic to something outside of college and job promotions. A diplomatic race that would verbally put black people, on the same podium as whites.

We, as black people, are more than willing to endorse a conversation that addresses injustice and murder. We have been ready, since 250 years ago. This is not our fight, for once, and this is not our stage. America will listen to a cause if it employs a white face. A pure embodiment of America. We are too busy being murdered, and spit on, to hope for this conversation. It is in their soft, and warm hands now.

Mmm… A Pint of Creamy Destruction!

Ice cream, I have found, makes a lot of people happy. Unfortunately, ice cream makes for one very discontent customer: Mother Nature. To assess ice cream’s impact on the environment, you must consider 3 things about its creation. Firstly, that ice cream is made with palm oil, and palm oil production notably contributes to the deforestation of Indonesia and Malaysia, resulting in mass habitat loss for already endangered species. Secondly, that ice cream packaging is rarely local, and instead requires the transportation of tubs across great stretches of land, adding to CO2 emissions. And lastly, that dairy production harms the environment astronomically every day, as one cow produces between 250 and 500 liters of methane gas daily, and requires around 4,781 gallons of water for its daily food needs. One cow. And there are an estimated 9 million dairy cows in the U.S. Now you might be thinking that a bowl of ice cream looks more like the entire logging industry strapped to a nuclear bomb, right? Luckily for us and the planet, there is hope yet! All we must do is take a nice, close look at these 3 facts and create eco-friendly alternatives to each step!

Palm Oil Plantation
Plantations International: Palm Oil plant in Indonesia

To begin, palm oil is what gives ice cream its distinctly ice cream texture; that smooth, creamy pint of goodness is thanks to plants most commonly found in Indonesia and Malaysia. But clearing rainforests in these countries to make way for our beloved palm oil releases greenhouse gases and steals habitats from animals like tigers, orangutans, rhinos and more. World Wildlife Fund offered a wise solution to such dangers by founding the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in 2004, supplying better choices in palm oil and creating standards that preserve the planet. By abiding by WWF’s regulations, we may take one step closer to eco-friendly ice cream production.

Next, the harmful impact of ice cream packaging can be lessened through local efforts to package pints; the investment in local injection molding machines saves thousands of “food miles” each year that transported packaging demands. Mackie’s of Scotland uses their own molding machine, and can proudly state that their tubs now only travel 200 meters from the molding room, saving the previous 50,000 yearly food miles!

The Killer
The Killer

Finally, the dairy issue. Who knew cows were walking serial killers of the earth? A much safer alternative to the draining production of dairy lies with the ingredients lying around in your kitchen. Ice cream can be made with coconut milk, avocados, bananas, almond milk, cashews, soy milk and many more ingredients you never would have considered in place of the milk from our moon-hopping, earth-destroying friend! The drawback to these resources would be the CO2 emissions from transportation; such an issue may be bypassed by buying local produce whenever possible.

Strawberry ice cream
Strawberry Goodness YUM

Overall, through careful consideration of ice cream’s effect on the planet, we may all reach a point where enjoying a scoop of that creamy deliciousness is no guilt, and all pleasure – for us, and the Earth!

Teen Interview #12

Emma Brennan, 16.


What school do you attend?

I attend Curtis High School.

In schools, are athletics or arts more appreciated?

Athletics; It’s just an American thing. Everyone’s so into sports, it draws the biggest crowd. People love going to football games because they’re fun, and they are fun, but I think they should branch out and try to participate in other things. Go to a choir concert or something. I think that the American culture is so into sports; although it is into arts. We have the super bowl, people can’t really help it.

How has, or hasn’t your school impacted your contribution to the arts?

It has, there are a lot of opportunities to participate. I love being in orchestra choir. For theatre, there are a lot of opportunities, although I don’t get into all of them [laughs].They’re really fun; it’s really fun to be a part of a family when you do get into them.

How has the education system sparked, or ignored, the arts?

I feel like our school has a really good arts program. It could be better; I don’t understand the favoring of other clubs and sports over some arts. I know our art program at Curtis is really strong but at other schools, it’s lacking. Theatre departments are really underdeveloped, which is sad.

What are your art mediums?

My top one is music, but I love theater. Theater is right underneath it. Theater and music have just been really important to me. I’ve been singing and playing the piano for a really long time. I got into theater in the eighth grade. I play the cello and the piano. I used to take lessons, but I stopped that- classical lessons aren’t my thing. I always wish I could play the guitar since I love rock music. I wish I could play the electric guitar because they’re so cool! Anyone who plays the electric guitar—you’re winning!

Do you wish you were multitalented? In what?

I’ve always wanted to be athletic. I always make fun of myself and athletes. I’m so sorry, [laughs] but I wish I was them sometimes! I used to really play volleyball, but I can’t play at all anymore. In the arts I’m fine, but I’ve always wanted to be athletic. I’m a real faker, I always pretend to be [athletic].

What music genre do you feel should be more popular?

I like listening to classic rock and alternative rock, I dig that. Also, I love a good show tune.

Who do you look up to when you feel especially uninspired?

Oh gosh, it changes a lot. I really love this artist, her name is Joni Mitchell, her time has passed. Her lyrics are some of the greatest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Her style is underappreciated now because her time was in the 70’s. Her lyrics are crazy; I don’t know how someone can write like that. More recently I really like Sara Bareilles’ lyrics. The part of songs that I really think is important is the lyrics. Melodies are really important too. But what it’s saying… you know?

What qualifies as “art”?

Art is getting creative and creating something that you put a lot of effort into. It can be music or painting, but I don’t want to sectionalize it. It’s hard to explain but just getting creative and putting yourself into something, whatever that may be. You could say your school work is art if you’re putting yourself into it and enjoying what you’re doing.

What is an underrated art, in your opinion?

This is going to sound pushy, but I think theatre is very underappreciated. A whole bunch of people just try out, thinking it’s weird or out of their comfort zone, and they end up loving it. I know someone who did “one acts” for one year, and they went to minor in theatre in college. I think if you try out for a show, even if you don’t get in, it’s so fun. It will be the least judgemental audience you have.

How has participation in the arts changed your perspective on life and the world?

Before I wanted to do a practical job, just like everyone else wanted, but I didn’t know what that was. I feel like if I hadn’t found theatre or music, I would go to college not really knowing. I have found myself in the arts, and that is the only choice I gave myself; that is the only thing I want to do.

Do you think there should be a balance in art promotions between adults and youth?

I think there should be a balance. I’m not really into [visually] artistic stuff, but those young people are going to be the future. They deserve to have their work shown off and they deserve attention.

How do you think theatre affects Tacoma?

There’s a lot of community theaters in Tacoma, and just from our school, there are a lot of people who want to go and watch. I can imagine that’s something for people in Washington especially, our state is really into the arts. There are a bunch of opportunities to see live theater, and that’s really good.

Why is theatre so expensive and how can we change that?

Kids don’t know that it’s an option to get good tickets. Youth should get access to cheaper tickets. I think that it should have an accessible price option. It shouldn’t be too cheap, because it’s going to art, and that should always have money going into it, but it should still be accessible.

How can theatre improve in inclusiveness?

[By looking] from a different point of view. Maybe if they took a chance on people that they haven’t worked with before, get out of the same thing. I know at TMP, they have the same people on every single show and it would be cool to see them including different people, even if they don’t know them. If they show what they can do, and they’re good, I think they should make it.

What are your short-term and long-term goals in relation to the arts?

I really want to do theatre and music any chance I get. I don’t have to do it professionally or release my own music. Maybe if there is a choir within a city, I’ve seen those. I want to keep myself sharp in singing and regular music, instead of just doing theatre. I want to continue doing music and maybe even continue with orchestra-that’s gonna be harder. I hope to not lose that because it’s really special!

Emma in Les Misérables

 

Go follow Emma on Instagram! @Emmab253