By Ben Attias, ArtsCenter Intern
During my search for a summer internship, after many emails to multiple ArtsCenter representatives, fate led me to Louise Tremblay, head of the Summer ArtsCamps. I was simply looking to complete a few more credits to cap off my school year and I thought I might as well seek out an opportunity that would take me far from the monotony of college life in Tallahassee.
Louise had a position in mind for me, one that weighed less heavily on my writing skills, a craft in which I study in academia, but more so on my knowledge of photography. We organized a skype meeting in mid-April in which she briefed me on what she was hoping to get out of me this summer.
I was to develop a site in which parents could view pictures and videos of their children at the ArtsCamps, and I would be uploading the site daily with my own photographs. Despite feeling highly unqualified for the job, I was up for the challenge. I began investigating different picture and video sharing sites and finally stumbled upon dropshots.com, the site that would become my template for the next couple of months.
Arriving at the ArtsCenter
When I arrived to North Carolina, immediately after dropping my luggage off at the home I would be staying at during the summer, I walked over to Carrboro to visit The ArtsCenter. I had seen pictures online but I still had no clue what to expect. When I walked in, it felt as though I was entering a small, indoor village. The art exhibit area felt like the town square, with a balcony overlooking the whole thing, and the corridors seemed to lead around in a giant circle. While navigating my way through the ArtsCenter, I was refreshed by each room’s discovery. Being a lover of art, the sight of dance studios, theaters, and art studios all in on facility excited me to my core.
On my way out, I was lucky enough to catch Louise as she was riding in on her bike. Our first face-to-face encounter was an extremely pleasant one, and the initial vibe that I got from Louise was one that held true for the whole ArtsCenter staff: relaxed yet focused, easy-going yet hard working. It is a beautiful polarity that the ArtsCenter Staff has mastered, a productivity thrusting itself forward, though somehow always remaining in a peaceful equilibrium.
First Day of Work
When I came in for my first day of work, I was directed toward what would be my workspace for the next couple of months: a humble folding table with a potted plant withering away in the corner. I could have never expected that this at first barren table would eventually get to feel so homey to me. So there I was, a newly born photographer. The thought of how kids would react to a cameraman coming onto their own turf and taking candid’s of them was a bit unsettling. During my first few rounds of photographs, I would walk into classrooms with my camera, trying my hardest to be unnoticed, though eventually I figured out that invisibility is not only impossible, but also not something to strive for. As the days went on I became more comfortable with my duties, and instead of a fearing to be too intrusive, I starting opening up and interacting with both the kids and the instructors. From that point on, my job became much more fulfilling. At first, as would be expected, some kids were a bit camera shy, but once they got used to me presence, they began to feel more comfortable with the idea of someone there to capture pictures of them, and many kids even started sharing their art with me.
What Makes the ArtsCamps So Special
In detailing my personal experiences working at the ArtsCenter, it would be impossible for me to stop myself from celebrating the ArtsCamps. Each individual classroom and studio felt like its own make-believe world, in which the child could create with his or her own imagination. Everyday I was continually amazed by how engaged both the instructors, and the children were. Each child seemed to be emotionally connected with what they were doing or creating, and it was the instructors that were able to facilitate this type of creativity and passion.
Throughout this whole summer, the two main emotions in the faces of children that I captured in my photographs were of joy and focus. Both emotions involve a certain amount of immersion into art that the ArtsCamps uniquely offers to kids. I have worked at multiple other camps, though this was my first encounter with such deep-rooted engagement.
Another thing that sets the ArtsCenter’s ArtsCamps apart from other camps is the diversity of camps in which they offer. Because each camp only lasts one to two weeks, there are a large variety of camps throughout the whole summer. Traveling from room to room, I would go from hip-hop dance, to exploring the ocean for mythic sea creatures, to the construction of impressive pieces of pottery, and the list goes on and on. Truthfully, some times I would feel jealous that I had to stand from the outside and only observe, rather than partaking.
Out of this whole experience, I am most grateful for the team of wonderful people I had the pleasure of working with. Adam Graetz, who works as the head of marketing, though does much more than the title entails, is probably one of the most genuine, smartest, hard working people I’ve met to date. Though, beyond his skill level and perseverance, one thing that strikes me as admirable is his willingness to help others. Whenever I hit any sort of wall, whether it be a technological problem, a photography question, or even just being in need of simple advice, he was always ready and willing to help at a moments notice despite his extremely busy schedule. I couldn’t be more grateful for all that he has helped me with and he will always remain a great friend of mine.
As my supervisor, Louise Tremblay couldn’t have done a better job overseeing my work. She was always extremely clear about what she expected from me and was never too forceful when it came to relaying my duties. Because she is so personable and friendly, working under her was such a pleasurable experience. As I got to know Louise, I became more and more aware of the reasons behind the Summer ArtsCamps’ success. Louise’s thoughtful, caring personality manifested itself in every single classroom in the ArtsCenter during the Summer ArtsCamp. I have nothing but admiration towards her for running such a beautiful program.
The flexibility, generosity, and caring nature of the whole ArtsCenter team will forever be a part of me. It has really been a pleasure working here and I hope to be back next summer!