April 12, 2017
"Meet a Community Art Star" is a regular feature showcasing ArtStarts' amazing group of volunteers who are passionate, enthusiastic arts champions. Read more posts in this series.
Julia Soderholm is an artist who recognizes the value of arts experiences can have on young lives. We feel fortunate that Julia has chosen to volunteer at ArtStarts! She recently applied her creative skills to help install our new exhibition of young peoples' art, Cause & Effect.
Hi Julia! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm from Ontario, but I've been in Vancouver for the last few years. I moved here for school, but these days I split my time between working at a children's bookstore, Kidsbooks and painting in my studio. I'm hoping to return to school this Fall to study Art Education.
You're an artist today. How did creative experiences when you were younger shape you and your chosen career path?
When I was a kid, I loved art class in school, but it wasn't until high school that I began to really think about pursuing art as a career. I attended after-school art lessons at a studio in town that held youth classes. My teacher there was incredibly supportive. As those Thursday night classes quickly became my favourite part of the week, I realized how much being creative meant to me. Having adults like my parents and teachers affirm my desire to make art was pretty crucial—it allowed me to think, "I could actually do this, this isn't so crazy."
What has working at a children's bookstore taught you about young people?
Working at Kidsbooks has been such a cool window into the creative world of kids. It's a pretty great gift to daily be allowed into the imaginative workings of a kid's brain. Helping a young person find their next read means asking them questions about what they love, and looking for stories that capture that part of their imagination. Not all kids love to read, and that can be challenging, but I think all people love a good story. Taking up the challenge of sifting through all of the other stuff to find someone a story they love is really worth it.
How do you think families benefit from being involved in the arts?
I think the arts are an amazing way for families and communities to spend time together. Collaborating over a creative project helps us see other people in a new light. Being creative also changes the way we see the world. Learning to think outside the box and create without fear is crucial to building a non-binary worldview.
Why did you decide to volunteer with ArtStarts?
The first time I visited the ArtStarts website, I knew I had found something really special. That inclination was only confirmed when I came in person. As an artist and future educator, I wanted to participate in the work that ArtStarts is doing in bridging the gap between art and education. Their commitment to fostering and showcasing young people's art is inspiring.
What has been your favourite aspect of volunteering so far?
One aspect of volunteering I've really loved is participating in the installation of new exhibits going into the ArtStarts Gallery. Something that stands out to me about the gallery space is the commitment to showcasing young people's art as seriously, as if it were made by adults. There is a temptation to look at young people's art as "cute" or "kid's art", but that attitude doesn't exist at ArtStarts. Each piece is displayed with respect and care, and the result is really beautiful.
How would you describe the creative process?
Figuring out my creative process is an ongoing thing for me. I have definitely learned that creativity thrives within a structure. If I'm going to the studio, I try to go for a set amount of hours, with a break for lunch, much like when I go to work. Even on days when I'm feeling frustrated, that commitment to being in the studio is helpful. I've also learned not to rush things. I often want to dive into a new painting quickly, but I've learned that my work benefits from taking time to work out problems in the initial stages. Creativity, for me, has been about marrying those inspiring moments of creation with putting my head down and doing the nitty-gritty work in between.
Anything else that you would like to share with us?
I want to thank ArtStarts for the great opportunity to take part in some of the work they are doing in this city and the province at large. It's been fun, inspiring, and I've learned a lot. If you're thinking about applying to volunteer with ArtStarts, I couldn't recommend it highly enough!
Thank you, Julia!
If you're interested in volunteering with ArtStarts, learn more about current opportunities at artstarts.com/volunteer
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