Amy Piñon is currently the Media & Communications Manager at Arts Corps – but she started her career as a student 10 years ago… and now she is on the RISE as an artist and community leader.
I wouldn’t know who I am without Arts Corps – speaking not just as a former student, but as a staff member, a teaching artist, and a person still growing into my fullest potential.
The first time I recorded my own song in a studio was here, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, when I was 16. I came to the studio to learn how to record my own music, and came away with even more – a newfound passion for audio engineering. The All Access program, which allowed high school students from around King County to come together to learn about music production was the official beginning of my arts career.
In fact, it was my only access to this kind of technical arts learning.
It was not until years later when I was in college for audio engineering, thinking back on the initial experiences that led me to pursue audio, that I found out that All Access was an Arts Corps program, and that unfortunately All Access no longer existed. This was an important moment, because as I was struggling to find meaning in a white male dominated field, and navigating my options and prospects for succeeding in that world, I felt extremely stuck. Was audio production really the path for me? The answer was yes, of course, with a compromise. If I was going to finish school, I wasn’t going to follow the status quo. I didn’t see myself working in a studio; I saw myself… working with young people.
I was inspired and DETERMINED, to use my audio education to develop my own youth audio curriculum, which, to the unexpected delight of the entire audio department, became my senior portfolio project.
I came (back) to Arts Corps shortly after graduating, as an AmeriCorps Artist-in-Service, working on the pilot Seattle Creative Schools Initiative at Madrona K-8. It was a tumultuous and eye-opening year of learning about how social inequities are perpetuated within the school system and what it means to be a teaching artist.
As my term approached its end, and I nervously considered what I could do next, I was offered a position on staff as Documentation Coordinator. And over the past three years, that has shaped into my role here today, as Media & Communications Manager.
My favorite part about my role here is capturing the stories of young people in the programs. Whether that’s through a photograph of a high-energy performance, or a video showing a students’ process and progress throughout the course of a program, there is nothing that connects me more to the work than connecting with the young people themselves.
The first photos I took for Arts Corps were terrible. I really had no idea what I was doing, just that I was really passionate about doing it. So my photos became better. The videos I’ve produced are pieces that I’m super proud of. As I gradually taught myself and practiced my media artistry, I have proven to myself that by fostering a growth mindset, I can learn anything I’m passionate about pursuing, and that’s exactly the mindset I embrace with the young people I work with.
Growing up at Arts Corps over the last four years, I’ve expanded my skills in audio engineering to other media industries and have accomplished so many other ventures in the creative world, which include producing and teaching an array of audio education programs for all ages, including Blanket Fort Films, Reel Grrls, RadioActive, Magnuson Park Radio, and The Vera Project, where I now serve as the Board President (aka Big Boss). I graduated from Teaching Artist Training Lab to solidify my curriculum development skills. I taught myself how to play the ukulele and then taught classes. I have continued to nurture my vocal sound and songwriting. I created the Womxn’s Creative Industries Meet Up which is a space for intergenerational resource-sharing between media makers, centered on young womxn of color.
As my path has taken many unexpected yet wonderful turns, there is no doubt that Arts Corps has been, and continues to be, the platform from which nearly all of my creative endeavors have originated. Arts Corps has not just been about accessing arts education, or any artistic skill in particular – it has been about building confidence in my leadership, gaining lifelong mentors, becoming part of a community, and realizing my creative power as a young person to adulthood – to come full circle as a student, teaching artist, staff member, and rising community leader.
And I’m still learning with Arts Corps everyday.
Amy Piñon (Amy Lp) is a multimedia artist and Media & Communications Manager at Arts Corps. You can catch her photos in many of Arts Corps’ publications, and her videos on Arts Corps’ Youtube channel.