Youth Boost are interviews with COMPAS' ArtsWork and ArtScope Alumni. ArtsWork and ArtScope are unique employment and arts training programs designed for youth to work alongside COMPAS teaching artists. ArtsWork began in 2001 and ArtScope in 2012.
Hey Jacob, thanks for taking the time to talk with COMPAS. Do you remember how you first became interested in the arts?
I remember being a little boy drawing a cat in my basement one night, and when I was done, I showed it to my mom and the rest of the family. Everyone, including me was very surprised how realistic it looked. I was probably the most surprised and I still get that excited surprised feeling when I paint and draw. It’s one of my favorite feelings.
It's been quite a while since you were involved with COMPAS. What years were you in ArtsWork? Do you remember what you did?
I was in ArtsWork the summer seasons of 2007 and 2008. The first summer, 2007, I did ceramics, lots of hands-on building. Then in 2008 I was in the mosaic program with Sharra Frank. I loved this program! We were placed in downtown Saint Paul under a tent in the plaza of some big sky scraper. I think it was the EcoLab Plaza. I fell in love with mosaics and Sharra was wonderful to work with. We all adored her and had a lot of fun that summer.
How do you think ArtsWork made an impact on you that a "regular" job wouldn't have?
I don’t think I could have held a regular job at that point. I really don't think I had the discipline to work a “regular“ job. I wouldn't have survived something that wasn’t very interesting and creatively stimulating at that point in my life. I wouldn't have survived a "mundane" job. ArtsWork gave me time to learn basic skills like socializing in a work situation, showing up on time and trying to be helpful without hating showing up every day, like some other jobs I’ve had.
Besides gaining artistic skills, what did you learn during your time with ArtsWork?
I’ve always been a pretty socially nervous guy, and I remember feeling like I fit in with my peers at ArtsWork. I learned I could work well with others. This is something that I doubted before and have had doubts about since but in that situation I worked well with others. That’s very important to me.
Who was your mentor artist? How did working with them affect your choice of education and/or work?
My mentor for the mosaics program was Sharra Frank. Like I said earlier, we all adored Sharra. She wasn't just a nice mentor, she was also very professional. I really appreciated that she wasn't just showing us how to make a certain medium of art, she showed us how to be professional and respectful and appropriate in a work setting. Hats off to her because that couldn't have been easy to do with a bunch of young adults and she did it quite gently.
What are you doing now?
I’m just finishing up a Studio art degree at Augsburg College. Just a couple weeks to go. I’m painting every day and very much addicted to it. I also love words and write poetry. I always try to incorporate words into my paintings. Creating and sharing my work brings me a lot of joy. I won’t stop making art. And maybe someday I can make a living doing it. Right now I am looking forward to getting any old job to support my art making habits on the side. I think that right now in my life, the important stuff is the stuff that I do on the side, and I'm fine with that.
Did your involvement with COMPAS play a role in that choice?
I think so. It’s good to know that there are programs like ArtsWork out there. I’m glad I got to be a part of it. I’m still pretty grateful that it was a means for me to meet Sharra and the other artists that I worked with. Some of those coworkers I am still very fond of.
Where do you hope to be with your work in 10 years?
In ten years, I just hope I’m as in love with creating and making work as I am today.