AIR’s Program Coordinator Liliana Mangan (she/her) shares about her musical and theatrical background, how working at AIR has impacted her personal creative practice, and her newfound love of solar printing.
What is your role at Arts In Reach?
I’m the Program Coordinator. Cara officially hired me in October, so it’s coming up on one year. I do a lot of co-facilitating with you and Cara. I carry a lot of craft supplies. I’ve gotten pretty ripped since I started working here. I would say that I sometimes teach, but we’re all teaching and learning constantly.
How did you get involved with Arts In Reach?
I heard about it through my dad. He said, “This looks like something that is right up your alley.” Then I basically showed up at Spirit of AIR and I said, “I’m helping everyone now!” And then I helped and it was really fun. I heard more about what Arts In Reach is about and I knew that I needed to find a way to work here.
How is Arts In Reach different from other places that you’ve worked?
The sense of community. I would say that is the number one thing. I also think the say that our teens have in our programs is unlike anywhere else. The fact that we go into our programs and basically say, “Okay, here’s what we have for you. We’re going to let you lead from here.” It always turns out really well and it’s more fun for everyone! Nobody judges each other at Arts In Reach.
What is one of your favorite Arts In Reach memories?
I feel like I have a new one every week. This may sound weird, but I kind of like when everything descends into a fun chaos. I feel like there are a lot of times when “Dancing Queen” comes on and suddenly everything must be halted so we can dance. I feel like that kind of thing happens constantly.
What advice would you give teens?
Learn everything you can. Have as many experiences as you can. Try not to judge yourself. If you were perfect at everything that you did, that would be pretty boring. You’d never grow. I feel like the fact that the staff are- I would say for myself at least 70% of the time- learning new mediums with the teens. We’re always pushing ourselves creatively alongside them. That has really hammered in the ‘don’t judge yourself’ message. If you mess something up you have a story from it, or you do better next time, or you figure out what you want to do.
Do you have a background in the arts?
I grew up surrounded by music. My dad was in a band. I really got into classical music for a long while- singing. There was always theater in my life as well. I remember watching The Phantom of the Opera when I was in third grade and from then on just being obsessed. I did acting for a long time and I went to school for it, but I just wanted to do more. I returned to music and I feel like since I did that I’ve been able to express myself in a way that I never had before writing songs.
Has working at Arts In Reach impacted your creative practice?
Yes! I do so much more now. I’ve explored so many other mediums that I think that I wouldn’t have even touched or known about. Like solar printing! I’m obsessed with that right now. I didn’t do it before, but ever since we did solar dye stuff at one of our fashion programs, I’ve really liked it. Jewelry making, and metal stuff too, is something I’ve developed because I feel like our visual arts programs are really popular. I’ve been doing more stuff with my hands than I ever used to.
Do you have any final thoughts to share with our readers?
Push yourself creatively. Love yourself. Love your friends.