Amy Piñon is a vocalist, songwriter, audio engineer, Arts Corps alumnus, teaching artist and newly-appointed Seattle Arts Commissioner. She is also one of our newest staff members, recently joining the team as Data and Communications Coordinator. We interviewed Amy to capture her story, and to learn more about the impact the arts have had on her life.
There are certain things that come naturally to Amy Piñon, like making the world a better place.
Even as a child, she would sit and think about how she could change things—how to improve on her surroundings. “I’ve always been really introspective,” she says, “I’ve always been someone who sees the flaws in the system [and asks] ‘how can I make things better?’” It’s a trait she attributes to being raised by her mom.
“My mom would never consider herself artistic or creative,” she recalls, “but I think that she is in different ways.”
Amy describes her mother’s inventiveness—using household materials to create a holder for utensils, for example. Amy was inspired by her mother’s intrinsic capacity to improve on her environment.
“We were low-income, but I never considered us to be poor; we always had what we needed,” she says. “I think her creativity comes from frugality and resourcefulness.”
When constrained by economic circumstances, being creative can be an act of self-preservation. It’s this sort of practical creativity that factored into Amy’s desire to explore her own artistic talents.
A singer ever since she could talk, Amy soon began writing and performing her own music. In school, she started taking dance classes as well, which proved particularly rewarding.
“Having the opportunity to do dance was amazing. I hated P.E., but dance was fun. I found I was pushing myself harder than ever before. I knew that I wasn’t the best dancer, but I knew that I wanted to do it.”
Amy found the challenge motivating. “Those skills that I learned in dance carry on to a lot of things—just not giving up,” she says.
The creative process necessitates a certain level of confidence—the belief that you have the ability to produce something worthwhile. If you have it, that confidence tends to overflow into other areas of your life.
Through her study of dance, Amy was able to believe in her ability to manage whatever life throws her way. Amy’s art allows her the freedom to create her own reality.
“What art means to me is imagining possibilities,” she says. “If you can imagine possibilities, everything else is less scary.”
This perspective has led Amy to explore other creative endeavors. In 2009, she was introduced to a recording class led by former Arts Corps teaching artist, Paul Rucker, which helped her discover her passion for audio production. Amy continues to write her own songs and even has a band (with the amazing name “I’m with Amy”). In 2013, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Design Technology from the Art Institute of Seattle. She also recently finished up a stint as an AmeriCorps teaching artist with Arts Corps at Madrona K-8, and led the Sounds of Science summer camp at the Pacific Science Center, which she co-developed.
“I want to use my audio skills to create access to recording arts for young people, especially underprivileged communities and communities of color,” she says. “I love teaching and developing curriculum and being able to open up another world to young people just like it was for me.”
It’s safe to say that there were many factors that led Amy to where she is today—creatively, emotionally, and intellectually. But it’s also clear that the opportunity to build confidence in herself—to risk doing something she wasn’t already skilled at, to struggle, and to improve—has helped Amy tap into her innate power to create change.
“I want to use my degree to do something different. I want to use my powers for good, and change systems and schools and lives,” she says.
And the world is a better place because of it.