PORTRAIT OF AN ARTS ADVOCATE
Darren T. Hamm
Executive Director, Oberlin Center for the Arts
Q: How did you participate in the arts as a child?
A: The arts helped to inform and define my life as a child. At a very young age, I found that I could better understand and explain my world by utilizing visual art. Thankfully, my parents recognized this and found ways to support my interests and continued education in the arts, through public school education and private lessons.
Q: Describe your favorite “a-ha moment” in arts education.
A: To the best of my recollection, I believe it was in the first grade when I first realized that my visual art skills could be used to better the world around me, when I was asked to create large reproductions of “The Letter People” (a PBS children’s literacy series) for display in our classroom. This moment remains precious as I believe it to be the first time that my talents were publicly recognized and I witnessed the joy that my creations brought to others.
Q: How do you practice creativity in your own life and / or what inspires you?
A: While raising young children, I have considered my “formal” artistic career in the visual arts, graphic arts and music performance, to be on temporary hiatus. However, I consider creativity, and the arts more broadly, as the way in which we approach life as opposed to our occupation. That said, I seek to incorporate creativity into my work and life experiences every day, from the way I work with others to design programs, engage stakeholders, develop resources or build collaborations, to the way I hope to raise my children and enrich their world.
Q. Name one puzzle or problem you are working on in the field right now.
A: We are currently working to build an arts and culture sector for our region, an activity which finds us bringing together a wide range of people around the role of the arts in our communities and the value it has in advancing community-level causes.
Q: Name an arts educator who impacted you and how they influenced your younger days.
A: You can reference my “ah-ha” moment above. If it weren’t for the recognition of my talents at a young age, my personal and professional life would have been on an entirely different trajectory. An education through the arts had allowed me to feel like someone of value, helping me to communicate through a new language and ultimately develop my own identity.
Q: What can the average person do to advocate for more and / or stronger arts education in local schools?
A: They can think of why art matters to them, the impact the arts have had on their life, and tell their story to anyone willing to listen.
Portrait of an Arts Advocate is a monthly feature profiling an OAAE member active in advocating for arts education in Ohio. If you’d like to submit your information, or recommend an #artsed advocate to us, email email@example.com.