Why This Matters: Because students in programs like Studio 345 who are engaged with learning tend to be contributing, productive members of the community.
By Angela Haigler
Eighteen year-old Emily Nunez is a shining example of the power of ASC’s Studio 345 in the lives of students. A young woman with a love of the arts since she was a little girl, Emily knew she had art in her heart, but was reluctant to release her inner talents outside the home.
Influenced by her Dominican grandmother who was an avid visual artist, four-year-old Emily would often mimic her grandmother’s painting by drawing on the walls. Of course, drawing on the walls was discouraged by her family, but young Emily continued to admire anything artistic.
A stellar student in math and science, she would doodle on the blank corners of her school assignments. Eventually her curiosity led to a stint with her middle school’s Art Club, but Emily wanted more. An interest in singing led her to join the school chorus and sing “Make it to Me” by Sam Smith for the annual talent show. Now she had two talents to develop.
Teachers encouraged Emily to enroll in Studio 345 in the tenth grade. She had found her tribe.
Studio 345 is a free, creative, out-of-school youth development program that uses technology and the arts to educate and inspire CMS high school students to stay in school, graduate, and pursue goals beyond high school. Taught and mentored by professional working artists, students gain invaluable experiences enabling them to become creative risk-takers and crafters while growing emotionally, intellectually, and artistically.
Studio 345’s working artists challenged Emily to develop her singing and visual arts skills even further. She gained increased confidence and skills in all areas.
One of Emily’s proudest Studio 345 accomplishments happened when she was selected in 2017 to participate in the International Sites of Conscience initiative, “From Brown vs. Board to Ferguson: Fostering Dialogue on Education, Incarceration and Civil Rights” as a youth leader. After an educational conference in Memphis, Emily leveraged her learning to develop a course for fellow Studio 345 students called “Colorism: Affecting our Future”.
Colorism is defined as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” As a darker skinned Latina with curly hair she refused to straighten, Emily experienced the impact of colorism daily within her own family, and she wanted to help others understand and grow. She created a curriculum for Studio 345 students and encouraged them to use their photography, mixed media, music and digital art skills to create art. The result can be seen in Studio 345’s exhibit space in Spirit Square.
Emily’s efforts paid off when she was nominated for the Studio 345 Presidential Awards at the spring graduation. She is a summer apprentice in the program, helping other teens. Emily will attend Appalachian State University in the fall and hopes to give back to the artistic community by becoming a teaching artist.