I first met Genesis at Open Studios Hartford where she was displaying her stunning artwork on the walls of the Colt Gateway Building. The allure of her artwork and the potential for her story to resonate with incoming apprentices is what inspired me to spotlight her as one of our three Neighborhood Studios Alumni. After spending 3 summers with the Artists Collective as a trombonist for the Youth Jazz Orchestra studio, Genesis is now a high school graduate, attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and continuing to pursue her artistic career. Genesis is a prime example of someone who is willing to break the mold of practicing only ONE artistic discipline. Learn more about how Neighborhood Studios helped her expand her artistic reach in the Greater Hartford Community below.
Describe what it was like to explore your musical talents at a nationally recognized institute like Artists Collective?
It was such a blessing knowing that you are being taught by world renowned musicians, people who have had so many life experiences and so much knowledge in life. [W]hat they are doing and being taught by them is so amazing. I did not take that for granted, I really thought it was a blessing.
I learned so much not only musically, but as a person and as an artist in the real world, what it takes to stand out and how to be confident. I learned a lot. It was amazing.
“I learned so much not only musically, but as a person and as an artist in the real world, what it takes to stand out and how to be confident.”
Do you have a favorite genre that you like to play?
Yes, […] [b]eing a Puerto Rican/Latina it was just so much fun playing Latin jazz.
Name one moment you will never forget as an apprentice. How did it shape you?There are two things that stand out:
- My first solo that I ever took at a concert. Going into the program I was always afraid to take solos here and there. [My teaching artists] made me do a really big solo in a concert and that moment was just life changing for me. You don’t just solo sitting down, you have to stand up and you have to play. That moment was just so exhilarating and was my first spotlight moment. That shaped my life because it made me want to do that more. That was the first of many moments in my life that I want[ed] to take that risk.
- Coming into the program I knew in the back of my head a very deep dark secret, and that was that I did not know how to read music. Going through elementary, middle, and high school I was just memorizing the music that we were playing and I was doing all that by ear. When I walked into the program I was in shock knowing that I had to read music. Being in that situation made me very vulnerable, but the moment that I confessed and let it out my music instructors reassured me, “Hey, its ok, a lot of musicians don’t know how to read music. It is a talent that you made it this far, not knowing how to read music because you have been doing all that by ear and that is not an easy thing to do. A lot of people who read music can’t really play music by ear.” That moment right there was a huge weight of my shoulders and it definitely gave me more confidence as a musician.
Did you learn to read music?
Yes, I did learn.
Who or what is your musical inspiration?
My musical inspiration is Michael Palace. He was my music instructor at the Artists Collective. I admired him so much. The way he played trombone was just incredible. He could make certain sounds on the trombone that I didn’t even know existed and he really just pushed me to become a better musician and he taught me how to read music. I admired him so much. He was defiantly a huge musical inspiration for me and still is today.
Do you still talk to him?
Yes, I still keep in touch with him. I see him on Instagram and he is doing shows everywhere. It is amazing that he is doing so much with his music.
How did Neighborhood Studios develop you as an artist of any form?
Not just musically, although Neighborhood Studios did development me as a musician, but as an artist overall because they taught us that you can be an artist in this world and you can have a successful career being an artist and they taught us the ways to do that. It taught me that I can do what I love and get paid and be successful. It taught me how to be well rounded [and] be poised. We had [an] interviewing skills workshop, I remember. It taught me how to be confident and be myself in this world. Be confident in who you are. It helped me become a better version of the artist that I was. I feel much more developed now because of Neighborhood Studios.
“It helped me become a better version of the artist that I was. I feel much more developed now because of Neighborhood Studios.”
If you could go back, would you do anything differently?
If I could go back I would be more daring, I would take more risks, I would take more solos. I feel like I would probably even try a different studio because when you are in the moment each studio is very attached to their own studio. The Youth Jazz Orchestra loved Breakdancing Shakespeare, but we were like, “no, we have to stay with our little family.” I feel like I would want to try a different studio going back into Neighborhood Studios.
Would you have gone for Breakdancing Shakespeare?
Yea, it looks like a lot of fun. Every time they presented what they did we were just like, “whoa, this is crazy!”
What do you think was the most challenging part about Neighborhood Studios?
Leaving! Leaving was defiantly the most challenging part because you create such close bonds with everybody, your instructors and apprentices that you just don’t want to leave really.
Why do you think it is important to the teenagers coming into the program?
For the Artists Collective and Youth Jazz Orchestra specifically, jazz has really shaped my life, it has really changed me. Going into this program I wasn’t exposed to jazz or anything like that and I learned so much about it; how jazz influences music today, the history about it, and the history of our culture. So being allowed an opportunity for programs like this is just going to make you a more well-rounded person, it’s going to make you have more knowledge, and it’s going to make you stand out more. It is a blessing to have a program like this.
“It is a blessing to have a program like this.”
What are you up to nowadays?
I have a part time job. I am constantly networking with other artists. I was involved in some art galleries through Open Studio Hartford. I am constantly painting all the time. Pretty soon I am going to be [attending] the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in the spring. I am working on projects with other visual artists. That is what I am up to nowadays, very busy bee.
You said you were doing a lot of networking with other artists and you are involved with gallery and studio shows. How did you get involved with all of that?
Open Studio Hartford, mom again, she pushed me really hard to do that. [I] was really intimidated because I only had so few pieces that I was confident enough to show. This year, last year technically, was [the] first year that I ever heard about it and once I got the confidence to visit and see what it was about I knew right away that I had to be a part of it. The other artists around me, I was so inspired by them it really pushes me to continue with it.
Social media is a huge factor. If you’re not on social media now with your craft, you’re off the grid basically. You have to promote your work, hit people up; don’t be afraid to email someone that you don’t know. Look for opportunities. Whatever communit[ies] you live in just look for gallery openings, look for clubs, look for camps, things like that. Don’t be under a rock, stay constantly looking for something. If you hear about something, listen to what they are telling you because it will help you. Keep your ears and eyes open.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I will be 23, so I will be pretty young. I see myself not putting my paintbrush down, not putting my trombone down. I see myself continuing to network with a ton of artists, visual artists, business people, [and] all types of people. I see myself having graduated from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, continuing my career in that, and being happy.
- Remember that you never have to confine yourself to one artistic discipline.
- Never take the opportunities that you are given for granted. Soak in what your mentors, guardians, and fellow artists can offer.
- Be daring, take risks, take more solos, and try new activities.
- Constantly look for opportunities to promote your work. Keep your ears and eyes open!
- Be confident in your artwork, be confident in you!
About Neighborhood Studios:
Neighborhood Studios, the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s award-winning, nationally recognized summer arts apprenticeship program, will enter its 18th season when it kicks off in June 2016. The six-week summer program provides area teenagers between ages 14 – 18 with an immersive, hands-on education in the arts, as well as career-skills training
The 2017 Neighborhood Studios Application deadline is April 7, 2017. Find out how you can apply here.
Contact Amanda Roy, Community Programs Manager for more information about the program at ARoy@LetsGoArts.org | (860) 525-8629 x252
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