Four student artists developed their portfolios, attended masterclasses and met with panelists at the National YoungArts Week in Miami from Jan. 5 to 12.
Student finalists of the YoungArts competition were invited to participate in an intensive course on their respective disciplines in visual or performing arts.
“It was cool to have a week full of continuously creating art and talking about our work,” Chiemeka Offor ’21 said. “That week really helped me get to why my art is so important to me and how I can use my personal voice in my art to speak for myself and others going through similar experiences.”
At night, students attended performances from each of the different art forms, including classical music, dance, design and visual arts, film, jazz, photography, theater and writing.
“We were immersed in our art,” Chronicle Photography Editor Caitlin Chung ’20 said. “We went over the technical and conceptual details of how we can develop ourselves as artists and not necessarily how we can develop our art.”
Students formed lifelong friendships based on their passion for the arts, attendee Oscar Montanez-Garay ’20 said.
“Going into YoungArts, I thought it was going to be a very competitive environment with students who had big egos; however, it was exactly the opposite,” Montanez-Garay said. “Everyone at the program was extremely supportive and eager to work with each other. It was truly a life changing experience.”
Offor said the week allowed her to gain confidence both as an artist and as a person.
“My goals for the trip were just to push myself out of my comfort zone with my art and be really open-minded when meeting new people and trying new things or working on interdisciplinary projects,” Offor said. “I think I was able to do this throughout the week.”
Excitment and Education
Montanez-Garay said the experience surpassed his expectations, and he enjoyed being surrounded by driven, talented artists.
“There was never a dull moment at YoungArts, everyone was super passionate about their craft,” Montanez-Garay said. “The best part was on the first day, when no one in the visual arts discipline knew each other [yet, and] opened up about their experiences and were vulnerable. We immediately bonded and it was so special to be able to feel comfortable with people who I had just met.”
The experience was educational and allowed its attendees to form deep connections through a shared passion for art, Offor said.
“After the week had ended, I had definitely gained confidence with my art and as a person and [was] less afraid to take risks in anything that I do,” Offor said. “I was also excited to meet other, like-minded artists and to see how their work was different from mine.”
Dreams into Reality
Montanez-Garay said his view of art changed as a result of his experience.
“I [also] learned how becoming a successful artist is very tangible,”
Montanez-Garay said. “We are raised to believe that if you become an artist you are going to make no money. However, this trip broke down the starving artist stereotype by giving clear insight on how to become one.”
Chung said that she found inspiration for her photography through the dedication of her peers.
“I’ve never seen the dedication that these kids have in their art,” Chung said. “It was inspiring, even if they weren’t in my discipline, to see [that] there are other kids having respect for the art they do. It motivates you to dig deeper and find meaning in what you are discovering in your art.”
Montanez-Garay said he gained a passion to keep creating art.
“Art is important, because it narrates the events and emotions of the world, yet it is only accessible to few,” Montanez-Garay said. “As a Mexican-American artist, my goal is to make art more accessible . I learned to never stop creating art because, even if some of my work never sees the light of day, I created work that keeps me motivated.”