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Step-Up Chattanooga Intern, Loren West, shares her Art 120 Story!

Loren has just graduated from Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts and will soon be a student of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this fall. She has always had a passion for art and mainly paints and draws, but is hoping to experiment with other mediums in college. She has also had the privilege to take art classes in Los Angeles during the Summer of 2016 and meet successful artists. Loren hopes her experience with Art 120 will help her choose what career path she wants to take when finished with college. Learn more about Loren on Art 120's About page!

"I know I want to pursue a career in the arts, maybe go into the fine arts, or become an illustrator, I’m not exactly sure about which specific pathway I want to go on, but I want it to involve art. After this experience though, I think I’ve come closer to making a decision about which career path I want to take, which is probably art education. I’ve always been doing traditional art such as 2 dimensional paintings and drawings, but my experience with Art 120 pushed me out of my comfort zone when I worked learned new skills such as welding, and turned around and taught it to middle school aged kids.

I’ve been interested in art since I can remember, but I only thought of pursuing it as a career when I was probably fifteen after touring some art schools with my grandma. I went to Center for Creative Arts since sixth grade as an art major, and finally graduated last May. But throughout seven years of going to an art school learning how to paint and draw was just not enough for me. I never felt like I was given the resources at that school to bring out my full potential. I really wanted something that would push and guide me into the direction I wanted to go in. Although CCA was a good school and taught me well, I couldn’t help but feel like I was restricted. I needed something to expand my horizons. After my junior year in high school I decided to take summer classes at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. With the amazing teachers who pushed me and also took into consideration of what kind of art I wanted to make, I really felt like I blossomed as an artist. I still wanted to push myself even further, so I decided that working for Art 120 this summer would give me this challenge.

I discovered Art 120 through Step-up Chattanooga. I joined step-up because I needed something to occupy my time this summer and save up some money for myself when I go to college. Art 120 seemed like the perfect match that would also give me a challenge. Looking at the things Art 120 accomplished such as the art bikes and art cars really peaked my interest. The way how I saw that the artists could make something so strange out of an ordinary object.

I hoped to experience new ways or gain a new perspective of making art, and maybe teach some classes or help with a few projects, which I did. I was excited at the opportunity to teach for the urban art bike program since art education is one of the careers I’ve been looking into. I was hoping this program would help me decide which direction I want my art career to go to, and after this experience I’m leaning more towards art education. It was so much fun and interesting to see kids take on new skills that could help them in their future and how they enjoyed what they learned. The program seemed like one that would challenge me, because not only did I have to learn how to weld, I had to turn around and teach it. I couldn’t wait to see something good come out of it.

When I was teaching for the urban art bike program, watching the kids come up with designs from the top of their head reminded me that when coming up with an idea to make a work of art, that the idea doesn’t have to be perfect at first. The way that the kids would work freely from the heart without overthinking the project was something I latched onto and is something I’ll take to my solo projects. Collaborating with the kids has given me a new way of looking at creating something new. I got the opportunity to meet other artists in the community when working in the Painted Story gallery, allowing me to see dozens of new perspectives of art from all different walks of life. I loved that the paintings were hung low enough for a child’s eye-level so the children could learn to appreciate art a young age. I know that the purpose of this gallery worked because I saw so many wide eyed kids come in and really look at the artwork. I remember one kid loved the art so much he wanted to buy some prints and hang them in his room. I could tell that programs like these left a positive impact on the community because of how much people enjoyed it and the knowledge and skills younger people have gotten out of these things.

I’m grateful that I learned skills that I probably wouldn’t have learned anywhere else. I got hands on experience on teaching kids who are passionate about art. I only wish I got to spend more time on projects like these with Art 120. Overall, it was a good experience!"