Braelyn Schenk ‘18

Name: Braelyn Schenk

Year: Class of 2018

Major(s): American Studies Major, Dance Minor

1.     Who inspires you?

People asking bold questions -- Question-askers who are not afraid to use their craft and the tools they have to stumble to another level of understanding, not even to the lofty goal of conclusion or solution, but simply to the next step of clarity and questioning. Whether in art, life, survival, love, activism etc., these individuals most often exhibit and expose the development of an act of creative problem-solving, a messy business that often requires humility, big mistakes, and the presence of other people and minds to bear witness and to invest in the process. With this open-minded methodology in mind, I think of Liz Lerman and Dance Exchange in D.C. These movers and makers stretch the expected reach of dance-making, community-building, and tangible, actionable people-serving. They first ask questions, they listen, they move. UVA's dance program graciously brought  Dance Exchange for a week-long residency this past Spring, to ask questions together and to employ movement as a mechanism for discovery, empathy and collective activism.  I will forever carry their bold questioning as a guide for my own.


2.     What inspires you?

People loving each other well. We live in a big world that contains highly constructed yet pervasive polarities. Often we tend toward compartmentalization, discrimination and the safe haven of hierarchy. However, in quiet and courageous acts of love, empathy and creativity, our collective through-line of humanity might just overcome our persistent fight for destructive separatism. I know this sounds idealistic -- that's because it is, and so am I.


3.     If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

If I could tell my younger self one thing it would be to practice patience, humility and gratitude within the continual process of growth. In that, to recognize and to cherish the inherent ups and downs brought on by successes and failures as integral to the fabric of wisdom and to a deeper self-knowing -- it is the fibers of both of these that make up something beautiful and sturdy, not simply one or the other.


4.     Why are the Arts important to you, and how do you see them impacting UVA?

The Arts are important to me because they dare me to encounter my humanity, they implore me to practice empathy, and they equip me to question creatively. The University of Virginia is a complex, ever-expanding, academic entity. We often forget however, that its success depends entirely upon how well it cares for the people standing with and for it. Art at UVA has consistently revealed itself to me as a radical mechanism for doing just that, for reminding students, faculty and staff how humanity fits into the institution, ever-examining the structure, while opening the way for compassionate growth and innovation.


5.     How do you navigate the world as an artist? Do you have any advice specifically for students studying or simply interested in the Arts?

Well, we're all artists, we're all creatives, aren't we? Whether it be explicitly or implicitly. As a publicly proclaimed artist myself, I navigate the world paying special attention to how I can approach, address (though, much to my dismay, rarely solve) daily problems, questions and inequalities through the principles and practices of my art-making. So, if you're reading this, whether or not you call yourself an "artist," you are a creative and generative being. No matter the diversity or specificity of your studies or interests, no matter the stereotypes and expectations that go along with them, remember that no matter what, your inherent, creative, human capacity can serve to deepen and broaden all that you do, all that you are, and all that you will become.  

# yourdailydoseofidealism

Braelyn Schenk, signing off.