For most seniors, their last year of undergrad is stressful. This was true for me as I applied for the Whitman Internship Grant on top of my full-credit course load and a looming thesis. But my internship with ArtWalla, a local arts organization, has proven to be more than just another task for the semester.
On October 25th, the Gesa Powerhouse Theater hosted its annual Dia De Los Muertos festival. Walla Walla families braved the slowing dropping temperatures that Sunday afternoon to create prints, watch plays, dance and get their faces painted. I arrived and immediately found my supervisor, Tricia Harding, who is president of ArtWalla’s board. I asked if there was anything I could help with, as ArtWalla was a large partner in the event. Tricia surveyed the popular printmaking station that was buzzing with artists and volunteers alike. She said that nothing was needed at the moment, and that I could sit and carve for a while if I wanted. She would call me if anything came up.
So for a while, I sat and carved a wooden block, keen to remember techniques I learned at a volunteer workshop the week before. I chatted with the other members of the community who sat beside me, some of them whom I recognized from the procession from the public library to the theater the day before. It was not long until I got lost in the work, a meticulous carving of Drake I was printing for a friend back home. It felt good to do some art during an otherwise very stressful week.
This is not to say my work with ArtWalla is a walk in the park. Soon after I finished my ode to Champagne Papi, Tricia called me to help move the enormous prints that had been made via steam rollers, a large attraction at the festival. I spent the rest of the afternoon tearing down the festival with the other volunteers which was no easy task. Moreover, I am helping the organization figure out what their vision is for the years to come. I meet with Tricia and other members of the board weekly to discuss what ArtWalla is currently doing and how they can be explicit when they present themselves to others. I am learning the importance of being specific in your mission as an organization and how a governing board controls the functions of said organization.
But on days when I am not presenting to the board or synthesizing feedback into PowerPoint presentations, I get to do art, making my internship with ArtWalla extremely educational but in a way that takes away stress from what could otherwise be a very hectic semester.