AIR’s Assistant Program Director Cassie Brazeau (she/her) discusses what Arts In Reach means to her and the importance of being open to trying new things!
What is your role at Arts In Reach?
I’m the Assistant Director of Programs and I have been working at AIR for a little less than a year, and I did some teaching within the last few years too. I taught Comics and Cartoons for the ArtVentures age group. I also did an Artist Outpost session where I talked about my art.
How did you get involved with Arts In Reach?
AIR’s Program Director Cara is a close friend of mine and a fellow artist in the community. She recruited me to do the teaching aspect and the Artist Outpost. I like working with kids and using the arts to reach out to them seemed really cool to me.
Do you have a background in the arts?
I’m a multimedia artist. I have a clay studio and a printmaking studio and I do a lot of illustration and comics. I love to take on new hobbies, make one project in the new hobby, and then be done with it. There’s always a lot going on.
I got into art my senior year of high school because I kept sneaking into the art classes during my free periods. Finally the art teachers were like, “you should take an art class.” I ended up going to an art school after that. I’ve been doing art as a hobby in my spare time and also as a personal necessity ever since then.
I am inspired by other artists. If I’m ever having a dry spell and looking for inspiration I can look at artists that are pushing themselves to break their own personal barriers and kids’ art and how much freedom they have in expressing themselves without thinking that anything needs to be a certain way.
What does Arts In Reach mean to you?
The program itself and what it does for teens is to allow connections through making art and doing things teens like to do. Doing art is not as much of a common thing. There’s not as much opportunity to do that in school. I think having an outside of school program for them to socialize with each other, share their interests, and explore those interests with cool older adults who can mentor them is all pretty ideal. It’s a situation I wish I had known about. It’s been around for twenty-five ish years. If I had known about it as a teen it would’ve changed a lot of stuff for me. The existence of Arts In Reach, their peers, and the teachers allows them to embrace the weirdness or not even feel weird about being different and having different interests.
Do you have a favorite Arts In Reach memory?
Whenever I see a teen break through a barrier. There have been a few instances where certain teens have talked to me about how hard it is for them to socialize and make friends. By the end of that program they’re creating a group chat with many other participants and they have new best friends. That always makes me super happy.
I feed off of their creativity as an artist. The fact that I get to go and see all of this fresh vision on art and take it home with me and do my own thing with it is pretty awesome. There’s a lot that I love!
Do you have any advice for Arts In Reach teens?
My best advice for teens is to try as many new things as you can. Be open! It’s really hard at that age to step out of the norm to try to be really open and receptive to new things coming your way because you get looped into doing the same things that you like to do over and over. I’ve noticed at Arts In Reach when we have new projects that people have never tried before they access different realms of their creativity. I’ve also noticed that if you’re an artist and you’re trying to find your voice, trying new things you might not think you would like will lead back to the thing you do like to do and give you more power in that thing; and always be yourself!
Do you have any final thoughts?
If you don’t think you’re an artist you definitely are! It’s a matter of trying and experimenting and having fun.