Claudia Vera-Rosas | February 2016

Hometown: Gardena, California

Major: Art

Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education


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 arts that you focus on.

A: My name is Claudia Vera-Rosas. I was born in Mexico City and grew up in Gardena, California; I am currently living in Temple City. My major is Art with the VAPAE minor. I graduated in the fall of 2015 and work primarily with photography, sculpture and video.

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

A: My interest in art started when I was very young.  Growing up, I watched my mom undertake intricate craft projects and I always enjoyed arts and crafts in primary school.  In high school, art was by far my favorite subject. Upon graduation from high school, I had the chance to travel and teach art in different countries and communities across South America for several years. This is when I knew I wanted to teach art professionally.

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

A: We are exploring textile art in the MASA program. The artists in the program have created beautiful work inspired by the MOLAS of the Kuna people in Panama. They have also printed on cloth with potato stamps that they carved by hand. Additionally, students in my sessions have also explored different ways of weaving, including paper weaving, cardboard loom weaving and, weaving through the use of yarn and straws.

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

A: Arts education benefits every child since creative activities provide some of the most essential building blocks of child development. In underrepresented communities like the one in which I teach, a program like MASA helps students succeed academically, socially and emotionally. It also helps them become agents of change in their personal lives and communities. The students reflect, explore, and share their stories through their art, but they also imagine new possibilities for their work and potentially their lives.

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: Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity like this growing up. I believe that if I had had access to this sort of experience, I might have understood at an earlier age that art is a creative process that engages multiple forms of learning, and which has the capacity to create strong social bonds across generational divides.   

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

A: My experience as a teaching artist/facilitator has reaffirmed my interest in becoming a full time teacher. It has also taught me to step out of my comfort zone not just when it comes to teaching and my art but also in my life. Lastly it has taught me that real learning does not take place without an emotional connection, so the connections I make with the students will determine our learning and growth.

Q: What do you personal gain as a teaching artist, arts facilitator?

A: I believe that teaching and learning are dialogical interactions between students and teachers, a process in which both experience growth. In that sense, for me, working as a teaching artist provides a tremendous opportunity for personal growth . I am always learning from the students.  The MASA program is quite special because it is a multigenerational program, so I get to learn not only from the little ones but also from the participating adults. After each session, I walk out of the classroom inspired with a strong drive to discover new ways of approaching my art practice.  It is a privilege to be able to share my knowledge and receive so much more in return.

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: The VAPAE program was most definitely the right choice for me. It is an incredible program and I learned so much with regards to the teaching practice.  I felt really close to the VAPAE teachers and they were always so available and invested in the students. The work opportunities they provide as teaching artists for the students are a testimony to their commitment to arts education and to all the VAPAE participants.

Q: Are there any anecdotes from your VAPAE Studio Sessions (or Arts Education Teaching Sequence) 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: After the first quarter of the program was over and we were in winter break, I received a couple of calls from two parents and their children wishing me happy holidays. This call stood out not only because it was heart warming, but because allowed me to reflect on the community building aspect of the MASA program.

We also once received an e-mail from one of the UCLA Community school teachers. He told us that the MASA program would be worth all the time and effort if only for one child in particular who was so removed and distant from school. Contrary to his normally detached affect towards his peers and his learning environment, this student would light up and engage with the curriculum during our visits. It was apparent that they were so happy to be participating in the MASA program.

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

A: I am working on acquiring both a multiple subject teaching credential, as well as a single subject credential in art so that I can teach full time.