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What I Learned In An Intern At A Political NonProfit As An Art Student

So, I have always been a creative, an artist, a person who simply needs to make things and put them out into the world; I might as well have watercolors running in my veins. Most people would describe artists as flighty, unorganized, and impulsive. However, this hasn’t ever really sat well with me. I have always been pretty type A, having strong values and opinions, and I like to think through every paint stroke I make on the canvas. As I have explored various themes throughout my studies of both studio art and art history, I have become exposed to artists such as Margarita Cabrera, Ana Teresa Fernández, Danh Vo, and so many more, who all have intentional and profound messages to put out into the surrounding world. While many artists have a kind of free spirit to them, they have a drive unlike any other, especially to not leave their own footprints in the sand, but wash away the harmful ones that have been left behind by issues of the past. Artists are always trying to prove someone else wrong, even if it is themselves. I have also met many students who feel the same way. Many are business students as well, or philosophers, or even biology students. I am an English student and find great reward in tying the arguments I read to the art I am learning about and even creating. I hope to become an architect and use art to make a physical change in lived environments.
When entering the summer before my junior year, I was searching for internship opportunities. Should I shadow at an architecture firm? Should I work in an art gallery? Or should I write for a publication of some sort? I honestly had no idea. All I knew was that I needed a plan. I was scrolling through Handshake, LinkedIn, and Indeed looking for opportunities that spoke to me, and suddenly I came across a non-profit organization called Power in Place. I had never heard of this organization before, but they were looking for an in-house artist and graphic designer, and their goals were centered around empowering women through story-telling, which seemed intriguing. As I did more research, I learned that Power in Place was founded by Katrina Hajagos and is based in Vermont and New York. The organization aims to advocate for women in office through story-telling. Although I am not a politics major and do not plan to go to law school, I reflected on how important my goals of working with the community were for my future profession. How being a woman in an underrepresented field was a dream of mine, and how incredible it would be to not only learn from women in office, but from women who use their own unique skillsets to affect change in society, and also to learn from women my age about topics I knew little about.
I decided to apply, and as the process went on I became more and more excited. I decided to join the intern team for the summer of 2021 and was able to jump right in designing graphics, illustrations, and painting portraits of women whose stories were being told. I was using art and design to make what felt like a tangible change in the world. Although the internship did not directly relate to my future career goals, it was indirectly and profoundly related. I was able to interview a local School Board Member at Large Jennifer De La Jara, and I learned about her own journey as a woman in this world. I was also able to grow in my digital art skills, work within the context of group critiques, tell stories visually, and work on networking and communication with local officials. Architecture is about influencing people’s day-to-day lives by creating livable spaces. What is visual story-telling if not changing or adjusting the lens through which people see these livable spaces? How do they see each other in them? I learned so much in regards to being a woman in the workforce and utilizing my creativity to make a change. I also learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of when I set my mind to it.

Emma Martin

Wake Forest '23

I am a sophomore at Wake Forest University. I am a lover of all things art: painting, theater, crafts, and diy. I love my two dogs Cabbi and Biscuit. I am a traveler at heart; some of my favorite places I have been are Prague and Venice. I am an intended double major in English and Studio Art with a minor in Spanish. Fun fact: I was born in London, UK.
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