I Am An Artist and You Are, Too

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We all have an artist within us.

Whether you just signed up for an improv class or your interest peaked with one poem in your Junior year English class, the I Am An Artist campaign encourages you to discover your inner artist and unleash it.

The following five profiles share the stories of five corporate employees who also have a passion for the arts. Within their respective mediums, each finds cognitive and coping benefits, and full-fledged passion. Together they highlight the fact that it does not matter who you are, what your age is, where you came from, and what your background is; we are all artists. And the only thing holding you back is you. Read on and visit LetsGoArts.org/Artist to discover your inner artist through art classes and events, and fun DIYs. 

Taylor Shirk

From an early age, Taylor Shirk was inspired by live musical performances. Every Sunday morning he watched his father lead worship at his church; the positive feeling that his father and his band created within the church community was one that Taylor could not ignore. Flash-forward to 2016, Taylor is an Accountant with CohnReznick, but his passion for playing music never died. A classical trained piano player, Taylor learned to play the works from Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, and Chopin and studied music at Naugatuck Valley Community College where he gained experience in Jazz and Blues Theory. He has also served as keyboardist and organ player in several bands. In addition to his own musical career, Taylor has also taught music lessons at JC Music in Meriden, serving over 300 students.

“There is no limit to musical talent. So the fact that there is always room for improvement is what drives me to practice and be critical of my playing. When I get into playing in the subconscious and not letting my thoughts get in the way, I tend to surprise myself. When I do end up surprising myself, that really gets me; it’s one of those, ‘If I can do this, what’s next?’ moment.”  

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Jessica Gagliano

At age five, most children want a new bike for Christmas; Jessica Gagliano received her first violin. Born to two violinists, Jessica and her three siblings playProfile Pic in Color.jpg the instruments that comprise the ideal string quartet. Today, in addition to enjoying her artistic medium, Jessica is a Competitive Service Consultant at Lincoln Financial Group.

Although she was not a music major at Providence College (she did receive a minor in music), she enjoyed participating in music groups. She was in the orchestra, the string quartet, the early music ensemble and played constantly throughout her collegiate career. Similar to her childhood, it was inspiring for Jessica to constantly be around great musicians and have the ability to play constantly. Following college, Jessica played with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra. Although, her “art life” and “work life” don’t typically collide, thanks to Greater Hartford Arts Council talent shows that support the United Arts Campaign, Jessica has been able to play her violin for her peers and co-workers!

Allie Shakof

Born and raised in Israel, Allie Shakof’s travels inspired her to begin painting. Beautiful portrait allie shakof.jpgmental pictures were instilled in her mind and the best way to relive those moments were to re-create them on canvas. When she first moved to the United States, art forms such as painting, sculpture and drawing were the only ways Allie could express herself.

A Risk Consulting Associate with KPMG, Allie finds her “work life” and “art life” coincide through balance. “My art life and work life coincide as my art life serves as a platform, balancing my life in every way, intertwining with anything and everything I do.” Although her art is not publicly displayed, it is featured in the homes of many of her family members.

Allie finds that any type of art allows her to appreciate places for their distinct cultures, characteristics, textures and colors. One of Allie’s favorite techniques is to let her subconscious do most of the heavy lifting.

“I don’t know what will come out; whether it’s an abstract piece or a doodle that becomes a detailed drawing, it’s always rewarding to see what effect the new place has on the subconscious mind, and the artistic way it ends up being conveyed by. There is no ‘planning ahead’ or ‘begin with the end in mind’ when emotions are being expressed artistically. It is about internalizing the surroundings, the energy, and one’s own identity, which allows for a safe space for expression.”

John Reizian

John Reizian first dabbled in photography in college. His passion didn’t fully develop until he attempted to disrupt the monotonous go to work/come home routine. A Corporate Attorney at Lincoln Financial Group, Reizian practices all different kinds of photography: nature shots, travel photography, and has even published a photo book chronicling his travels to the small fortress at Terezin. What makes Reizian’s photography stand out is his desire to evoke an emotional response; the same emotion he experienced as he took said photo in the first place. He typically takes black and white photography, unless the color within the photo can evoke the emotion. .

“Over time it also became clear that I wasn’t that keen on using photography as a record keeper of my life’s events . . . I’m not really a snapshot person.  For example, when I travel, my photos (at least the ones I care about) are less about the places I’m visiting and more about a moment when the quality of light transformed the landscape around me or when an object or person stirred some emotional response in me.”

Visit John’s website to view some of his favorite photographs!

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Mersini Keller

Mersini Keller has been drawing for as long as she can remember; black and white sketches, doodles during phone calls, rich colorful pieces and so much more. Today, a Senior Manager at Public Accounting Firm KPMG, Mersini draws for a number of reasons. In addition to relieving stress from her career, she loves to give away her art to family and friends, and her kids enjoy watching her make magic on each sheet of paper.

In addition to drawing, Mersini is passionate about supporting the arts. She believes it is important to give to the arts because children need a medium in order to fully express themselves in a way their words cannot. She finds in her own personal experience, her children, in addition to so many others, express themselves more adequately through coloring and drawings than using linguistics.

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Take the time to discover your inner artist and join the United Arts Campaign to keep the arts alive in our communities!

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