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Helping Others Through The Arts

Have you ever looked at a painting, read a poem, listened to music, or watched a performance and felt connected to the work?

I visually remember visiting Rome and seeing the Sistine Chapel. It was breathtaking, and I felt so free and grateful to have seen such beautiful artwork. I remember reading a poem at a gallery in New York about the story of a daughter and her father’s journey of encountering adversities but remaining hopeful. Their story inspired me to be more empathetic and loving towards others. It helped me appreciate all the hard work my father puts in for his children.

It was a performance that helped me make the most important decision in my life. I was a freshman attending Penn State University, majoring in psychology while performing musical theater as an extra activity.  My father saw a passion in me for the arts and decided to take me to see my Idol Idina Menzel in her Broadway musical “If/Then”. The play itself was about life choices, it was then I realized that performing arts was the career path I wanted to pursue. It was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and it was how I was going to spread love and help others.

I recently read an article by Olafur Eliasson titled: Why art has the power to change the world Olafur beautifully explains how when we are touched, we are moved; “we are transported to a new place that is, nevertheless, strongly rooted in a physical experience, in our bodies.” My favorite part of the article was when Olafur Eliasson explains how art allows us to become aware of a feeling that we weren’t aware of before. This feeling is one of the many reasons why I pursued the arts as a career. My objective as an artist is to help people understand genuine emotions and mindsets. To realize that it is okay to feel a certain emotion.

We can Help others through many avenues…

1. Performing arts: 

During my first year at Penn State, I played the role of Fiona in Shrek the Musical. My cast and I performed every day for young children; I never forgot this one little girl after the show explained to me how she never felt beautiful and how she found beauty in herself by watching Fiona embrace her beauty. In that moment… Nothing else mattered.

Several months later, I transferred to an acting conservatory called the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. This is where I learned the true meaning of performing. I learned how to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances, to take risks, to show that it’s okay to be human. To fall, to love, and to conquer. It was an amazing two years that prepared me for the real world.

After I graduated, I auditioned for this amazing theater company called S.T.A.R and was the lead in an additional musical called One in a Million. I started seeing a pattern in both projects. During my time at S.T.A.R, I was able to inspire young children who were sexually abused to get help through my role as Josie, a young girl who was sexually abused by her cousin. And through my role as Zuzy in the musical one in a million, I was able to spread the word of god, something I haven’t done in over a decade. These projects not only inspired others, but they changed my life for the better. For over a decade I was running away from myself. I was consumed by the pains in my past. I spread unconditional love to others, but I left no room for myself. Both of these roles inspired me to get help for the first time and to go back to my faith.

2. Expression: 

You can learn a lot by looking at the artwork. It’s mysterious, it’s breathtaking, and it’s beautiful. My sister is an experimental artist that studies at the School of Visual Arts.  Some of her artwork purposely shares a story about her past adversities and how far she has come.

3. Opening Doors and Share Opinions:

Whether is a play, gallery, Sites or even a website such as The Daily Onion, open a door to help others express themselves. I am thankful for The Daily Onion, a website in which we can share our stories and talents freely without prejudice.  I spend time with quite a few cast members from each of the projects I am involved in and take the time to ask them about their experiences.  ask them interviewed people who also embrace the arts and wanted to share their experience.

One of the actresses Rita Figueiredo told me that “art inspired her to be more positive in her life.”  She also stated how it saved her life because she believes that everything is possible when you are connected to the arts; you have no limits. Her story inspired me. She came all the way from Portugal to pursue her passion for acting.

Another actress Barbara Ramos said, “It makes you look not only at the subject but the mind behind what it is projecting out into the world. It’s made me more curious and it has impacted my life. Minds can be so interesting. There is no good or bad. Art is imperfect yet so beautiful.”

Lastly, David Bongiorno stated, “It has influenced my life since I was a kid.” When my father took me to see the return of the Jedi it inspired me to want to act. To be something bigger.

I agree with the Olafur Eliasson’s article in that “the arts and culture represent one of the few areas in our society where people can come together to share an experience even if they see the world in radically different ways.” We use art to express ourselves, to communicate, and to tell a story. It allows us to be creative and to search constantly for new ideas. There is no doubt that the arts have changed so many lives over the years and many more to come.

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