Lindsey Kunisaki | April 2015

Hometown: La Verne, California

Major: Individual in the School of the Arts & Architecture


Q: A little background about you: Name, Hometown, degree major, year of graduation (or year of study if you are not a graduate yet) and the type of art that you focus on.

A: My name is Lindsey Kunisaki, and I am originally from La Verne, California. I am currently an Individual Major in the School of the Arts & Architecture, and will be graduating in June 2015. I primarily work with music composition and performance, although I also integrate other visual and performing arts in my pedagogy.

Q: How did you discover your interest in art and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as an art teacher?

A: According to my family, I have been making art since I was able to hold a crayon. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was constantly engaging with classes, lessons, and workshops in multiple arts disciplines, although music has most recently taken priority over my other arts practices. As I refined my creative interests during my late high school and undergraduate years, I began to view the arts and social justice as inextricably related agents at the forefront of the effort to achieve equity in and through education. As a teaching artist, I aim to create inclusive learning environments that allow students to explore, discover, and express their knowledge.

Q: Describe what the young artists in your VAPAE studio sessions are working on and the process they’re using.

A: MS@SS: Currently, students in the Music Sessions @ St. Sophia’s are exploring rhythmic possibilities through collaborative compositions for body percussion. In the coming weeks, these young artists will further expand their musical vocabularies by adding more complex rhythms and melodies. Throughout the creative process, students also document their work through experimental forms of musical notation, and regularly practice performing, sharing, and reflecting on their compositions and creative processes.

MS@UCS: Students in the Music Sessions at the UCLA Community School are exploring their imaginative capacities through reflective listening and expression through various visual and performing arts media.

Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?

A: UCLA VAPAE’s Studio and Music Sessions encourage students to view the world around them through a critical lens, and give them the courage to take risks, make mistakes, develop solutions.

Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?

A: During my childhood, I engaged with multiple visual and performing arts practices in and outside of school. Developing my artistic practices alongside my peers exposed me to a sense of community that I had never experienced in classrooms or at home. Bound by a mutual creative interest but distinguished by our individual backgrounds, goals, and experiences, I recall these arts spaces as critical in the formation of my identity as an artist, musician, and young adult.

Q: What has this experience as a teaching artist/ facilitator taught you about yourself?

A: Particularly in my experiences working with a wide range of age groups, teaching and facilitating has elicited an unprecedented patience in me. I have learned that patience with my students, my surroundings, and myself is essential to the creative process in and outside of the classroom. Having the patience to acknowledge challenges and devise flexible solutions (with the expectation that they may fail) has helped me grow as an educator, student, and artist.

Q: What do you personally gain as a teaching artist/ facilitator?

A: As a teaching artist, I have gained an overall consciousness of my communicative capacities; with a heightened awareness the impact and implications of my actions, instructions, and explanations, I feel that I am now better equipped to communicate my ideas (artistic or otherwise) to a wide range of audiences.

Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?

A: VAPAE has exposed me to arts education as a practice rooted in social justice. Through the teaching sequence and other VAPAE courses, I have learned the value of creating and participating in learning environments that prioritize discovery, exploration, creativity, and reflection. VAPAE has instilled in me the values, knowledge and tools to critically reflect on my artistic practices within the broader context of society. I feel that VAPAE’s balance of theoretical and historical knowledge and practical experience has pushed me to harness my creative abilities to best serve students and communities.

Q: Are there any anecdotes from your VAPAE Studio Sessions that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a break‐through with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.

A: In my experiences working with a group of twenty kindergarten students with a wide range of creative interests, it was difficult to engage each student in every activity. But as I began to integrate other arts disciplines (many of which pushed me beyond my comfort zone), I saw a transformation in some of the students. I saw faces light up at the opportunity to express and explore learning in new ways. I saw emerging leadership and collaboration amongst these young creators. I saw a kindling of creativity and curiosity in and beyond the arts. Seeing these transformations motivates and inspires me to constantly reach beyond my own creative interests and expertise in order to foster the growth of the students’ artistic identities.

Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?

A: Ultimately, I plan to advocate for the power of arts in education through organizational leadership in the field of education. By initiating research to impact education policy and developing curricula and pedagogy in integrative arts education, I aim to help close gaps in access, equity, and achievement in education. Currently, I seek professional experience as a teaching artist in order to gain an understanding of the experiences, challenges, and needs that educators face on a daily basis so that I can eventually address those needs toward effective pedagogy and a creatively empowered youth.