In Art 4 Life Summer 2023, our youth did a lot! In the course of a week, the interns worked with professional artists at Common Area Maintenance (CAM) in Belltown, learned a variety of new visual arts skills, created 5 different pieces, and hosted a showcase event for the community. It was a whirlwind of laughter, growth, and creativity. At the heart of it all were Arts Corps teaching artists Adam Collet and Arielle Labra. Adam and Arielle were the ones to plan the curriculum, lead the classes, and stand by the youth through their challenges and celebrations. We are so thankful for their work and talent!
Now that the program has ended, we got the opportunity to learn more about these awesome teaching artist and their thoughts on the internship.
You both have been teaching artists for Art 4 Life in the past. What made you decide to become a teaching artist? What do you like about this program in particular?
ADAM: I came to teaching late in life, I never thought I would be a teacher, I guess I resisted the call for a long time. When my own children began school I started to see a real need for quality, relevant art education. That was the beginning for me.
What do I like about Art 4 Life? It’s a chance for students with an interest in art, that might not otherwise have access to higher level art opportunities, to work together intensively and produce a new body of work. This latest iteration of Art 4 Life was great, we were at CAM (Common Area Maintenance) for a week. We worked on book binding, zine making, poster making, collage, printmaking, stencil work, photography, and sign painting. There were probably a couple more things in there too. In the end we had an art show/book binding event to showcase all the awesome student work. Big shoutout to Arielle , my co-teacher, and Timothy and Robert at CAM, and all the CAM artists that pitched in.
ARIELLE: Growing up I lacked representation. When I was in school I didn’t have a teacher whom to look up too, not even my art teachers. So I would like to be “that” teacher for someone. I think representation is key for youth, they are trying to figure out who they are and having teachers that don’t fit the norm is key.
As to Art 4 Life, I like that it’s a very intentional program, its main focus is to expose youth to an artist work environment and teach them new art and work skills for their future careers. I think that art programs are essentials in a students life, there are so many art forms out there. I’m grateful we get a chance to show/teach different art mediums to the youth and that they get a chance to try new things.
What has been a challenge about pursuing art professionally? What has been a reward?
ADAM: Haha, pursuing creative work professionally is not for the faint of heart. There’s of a constant struggle trying to balance personal and professional goals and projects. Rewards? Peace of mind, the reward is all in your head.
ARIELLE: It has been financially hard, teachers and artists world wide are not compensated fairly for their jobs and time. But I love sharing and being creative with others. It feels my heart with joy when I see young artist believing in their craft and trying new things.
What are some of your own creative practices?
ADAM: I’ve been taking photos for a long time now but lately (the last 2-3 years) I’ve been drawing and painting a lot more. Mostly drawing semiautobiographical short comics. Currently I’m mining a lifetime of memories and seeing how they influence the way I interpret the world. I’m also trying to assemble a box camera I picked up recently.
ARIELLE: Being curious, drawing everything, and keeping an open mind! I always take photos of where I go and whatever catches my attention when I’m walking. I always carry a little sketchbook and pencil with me because you never know when you will find something to draw.
What was one of your favorite moments during the internship?
ADAM: We did some linocut printmaking and seeing the students turn a slab of nothing into beautiful works of art was fantastic. Watching them pull those first prints, it was like watching a magic show. That, and giving them the cameras and toy cameras to take photos. It was very cool to see how they decided to document the work that was happening. Lastly, maybe just seeing everyone so motivated. We had a couple 15 minute breaks built into the schedule everyday but more often that not students would just keep working. Everyone was just so focused and productive.
ARIELLE: The students faces when they saw their final projects. They worked so hard to make it happen and it showed in their piece.
Do you have other projects coming up, or anything you would like to share?
ADAM: Nothing I want to mention, don’t want to jinx it.
ARIELLE: I’m slowly but surely diving more into tattooing and just moved into a new studio, so my summer project is to make the place look nice and get new clients!
Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Adam Collet has been taking photographs and making art since childhood. Adam went to school in Seattle, also attended Seattle Central Community College and the UW where he earned a BFA in Photography. In 2008, he began teaching and passing on an interest in art and design to the next generation. Still living in Seattle with wife, children, and cat.
Besides Adam’s photography and illustration work he’s also a Teaching Artist specializing in Visual Art with a focus on integrating Art and STEM disciplines. In addition to Arts Corps, he’s taught classes, and online content for King County Library System; Seattle Public Library; stArt Exploring, a project of Sound Transit; Seattle Parks and Rec; High Point Neighborhood House; Yesler Terrace, Youth Tutoring Program; Family Learning Program; and various schools in Highline and Seattle Public Schools.
Recent projects include Essentially Seattle – photographing essential workers for City of Seattle/SPU, from the Office of Art & Culture; Public Art Program – photographing publicly sited artworks for City of Seattle, from the Office of Art & Culture. Ethnic Artist Roster, Seattle; Creative Advantage Arts Partner Roster, Seattle; ShoreLake Artist Roster, Shoreline.
Arielle A Labra Campos (She/Her/They/Them) is a Queer Latinx artist born to Immigrant parents in Zimbabwe. Moving to South America at the age of 5, living in Chile and Argentina before moving to Seattle in 2018. From an early age, Arielle has explored different art forms to express and find herself. Growing up, they would spend their school breaks at their grandparents beach house in Chile. In summer playing with the waves, the sand and seashells, and in winter Arielle would fill her time with drawings, paintings and crafts. She is inspired by the feeling of belonging and her long-life connection to the sea and their creatures – utilizing blue and purple colorways, and detailed lines and dots to bring her illustrations to life. Her art often combines the creatures of the surface (humans) with oceanic themes. In her work, Arielle brings together elements that sometimes looks like they don’t belong together, bringing harmony and balance to it.