Valentina M. Quezada | February 2017
Hometown: West Hollywood, California
Major: Fine Arts
Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education
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: I developed an interest in art when I was very young, around the age of 5. It was always something I loved to do and my family was very supportive. We often went to museums and I was exposed to the work of many great artists. I decided I wanted to pursue art as a career when I was in high school. As a senior, I interned at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which led to my interest in arts education.
Q: Describe what the young artists in your VAPAE afterschool arts program are working on and the process they’re using.
A: In my program, the students are working on projects that explore their inner selves. They are learning different techniques in multiple mediums, such as sculpture, printmaking, and drawing. We designed the projects around student feedback from the previous quarter. We have been experimenting with Surreal drawing warmups, like exquisite corpse and frottage drawing. I enjoy teaching techniques and exposing the kids to new art forms.
Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?
A: This opportunity gives students a safe space where they can have fun with their peers and express themselves through art. We have a lot of students who are discovering themselves through their work and that is very valuable. They form new friendships, develop ideas, and get to be creative, which they often don’t get to do in school.
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: I was fortunate enough to have many art experiences growing up. I went to a visual art magnet high school, where I had classes in various media and was able to participate in exhibitions and school theater. Those experiences greatly shaped my deeper love of art during those formative years.
Q: What has this experience as a teaching artist or arts facilitator taught you about yourself?
A: This experience has taught me to be more flexible as an educator. It has been very rewarding working in a collaborative studio environment where we can experiment with the students and take the time needed to complete an assignment.
Q: What do you personally gain as a teaching artist, arts facilitator?
A: Teaching is a vital part of my artistic practice. I learn from my students, just as they learn from me and I love the discoveries that are made in that relationship.
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: Completing the UCLA VAPAE program has been very beneficial to my career as an artist. It has helped me gain a valuable skill set that goes well with my artistic practice. The program provided me with a solid foundation that led me to have multiple teaching and administrative jobs.
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: The Studio Sessions at St. Sophia’s are always very lively and full of energy. The students always inspire me to enjoy myself while making art and take some time to laugh. I love seeing shy students break out of their shell or the very rambunctious ones become deeply focused and engaged in their work. Those are the moments that make teaching worthwhile.
Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?
A: My short-term career goals include participating in more exhibitions of my artwork as well as working in arts education as a teaching artist and program coordinator. In the long-tern, I aim to have a higher exposure of my art work and would like to run my own business/art program.