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Creativity and Community

As far as educator Emily Vielma is concerned, art doesn’t imitate life—art is life.

“For me, creating is everything. I’ve been drawing, painting, writing, making music and creating other useful and useless stuff since I was a kid,” says Ms. Vielma, who resides in Long Beach, California.

Community holds high importance for her, and she spent some time figuring out how to combine the two. “I first went to school for art and English, then for ethics and international affairs, and finally for education. Although it felt like total career shifts at the time, all of it came together for me when I found myself in art education, as I believe that the arts are not only valuable in and of themselves, but also instruments of language and voice, healing and change.”

Image of Emily Vielma

Ms. Vielma began her teaching career as a private music instructor before finding her way to high school art. For the better part of a decade, she has created and taught visual arts classes and hosted workshops for high school students. Ms. Vielma also facilitates numerous events exploring a range of hands-on art styles and processes, including creative career skills exploration. Additionally, she has organized over a dozen student art shows. Last year she launched a new Art and Creative Engagement (ACE) program with Skyrocket Education.

Skyrocket offers various programs and services to help realize the common goals of administrators, teachers, school staff members, and students and their families. The ACE program was born out of a desire to help fill the gap in arts education by offering various customizable art classes, workshops and events for schools. Within the first year of its launch, Ms. Vielma and her team have been able to bring visual arts classes to four different schools, with another school scheduled to start in the new year. They’ve offered a variety of virtual and in-person workshops and events, including immersive hands-on experiences in fashion design, photography, as well as a four-day Southern California visual and performing arts camp. Participating students also enjoyed a four-day San Francisco art and food tour. In addition to these student programs, ACE provides professional development workshops for teachers through art and mindfulness retreats.

We asked Ms. Veilma to share her advice to those students wishing to pursue creative careers. “If you have a vision for a creative life, hold onto it with everything you have. Keep investing and leaning into your creativity, work hard at your craft and embrace the process.” She explains to her students that the road will likely not be easy nor direct, but they’ll be amazed at what they can accomplish. “Creativity is power; you can change a whole industry, or the whole world for that matter,” she continues.

Ms. Vielma has worked alongside FIDM College Representatives and FIDM Educators in a number of ways, including an immersive student fashion design experience. Utilizing a Downtown Los Angeles warehouse space, FIDM staff members taught a room full of high school students how to mock up fashion and footwear designs. Students also learned how to drape fabric on dress forms, and were provided tips for helping them imagine their own creative futures. “I loved getting to work with Cecile Fayan, Tanya Bulzasky, and Kelly Pudgil. Their deep passion for the students is evident in everything they do. I look forward to partnering with them again!”

Ms. Vielma’s greatest joy as an educator occurs when the teaching stops, the demo ends, and she reaches the point in which she can stop managing outcomes. “I step back and watch the process unfold in students’ minds, sketchbooks, and works in progress. It’s the conversations while they’re exploring, experimenting, and expressing; the connections they make to their lives and the world around them. It’s their accomplishment of a creative act that felt too big for them, and the look on their faces when their classmates absorb and applaud it. It’s the moment everything changes for a student, whether they know it or not, when art or design is no longer a class to take or a thing to do, but a way of life and a path to themselves,” she says.

When she’s not educating and inspiring her students, Ms. Vielma enjoys traveling, camping and exploring the world with her family.