AIR Teaching Artist Meghan Samson (she/her) shares her inspirations, her path to working at AIR, and the importance of reconnecting with her true artist self.
What do you do?
I identify as a ceramic artist and a teaching artist. I have been making art my whole life. I remember being a little kid and saying, “I’m an artist” when I was three or four years old. When I got older I went to school for art. After college I ended up getting an opportunity to teach and I realized I love teaching even though it was something I thought I would never do. Teaching and making have become really intertwined for me as an artist.
What inspires you?
People’s stories. My life. When emotions and memories are beautiful it inspires me to recreate them and catch them forever through my art. The outside natural world also inspires me.
How did you get involved with AIR?
I am local to the Seacoast. I grew up here, made art here, and went to school here. I knew about Arts In Reach when I went to college and thought it was a cool thing. I never thought about teaching for Arts In Reach. Later, when I started doing more teaching and getting involved, I worked at an arts charter high school as my first professional job after my BFA. We did so much community outreach with our job. It was a theatre and arts school, and some of the theatre people were involved with Arts In Reach. I started to think about how we could team up to get art into the community more. It was being local, seeing advertising, and hearing about it through my job. It was like fate.
How is AIR different from other places you have worked?
I think that there are a lot of reasons why Arts In Reach is different. One of the first things that pops into my head is that what the artist does- their talent, their gig, whoever they are- is embraced and is the launchpad for the programs. Sometimes the artist is the afterthought. It seems like Arts In Reach really celebrates the artist. Therefore, it gives the students a special look into the kinds of things a true artist can offer young people.
I also think that AIR offers art and experiences to students who don’t usually have access to those programs. They focus on working with teaching artists to give the students a great look at how that lifestyle can be. Also, it hits at so many different creative outlets that kids can experience.
What is a piece of advice you have for AIR teens?
Make things that are meaningful to you and come from a real place inside of you. Listen to that inner artist self and make things that come from that. Don’t worry about what other people think, what art ‘really is’, or what it is supposed to look like. Be true to yourself and your own unique voice.
Do you have a favorite memory from AIR?
One of my favorite memories from Arts In Reach was when somebody said, “Why not?” and it became a theme. I can’t remember why it came up. They kept saying “why not” and I thought that was so good. That was my first AIR program. I like how the students’ experiences and personalities make the experience.
When we were at MudCity we had a time where we all played our favorite Disney songs while we were making clay. That was really fun! It was a way we all connected in a silly, childlike way.
What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life?
Immediately what comes to mind is reconnecting with my true artist self. Like the advice I gave earlier, listening to my instinct and not trying to perform for other audiences. To make work that speaks from the truth inside of me. The confidence of being your true self. That’s a huge lesson. It takes time. You get lost when you’re young, I think. Reconnecting with that person that I was, that I always have been, and listening to that person and celebrating them.
We will be announcing our spring programming soon! Fill out AIR’s Registration Form if you are interested in participating in our programs and workshops.