- San Diego, CA
- Works part-time in a small boutique that sells local artwork, handmade jewelry, and crafts; Picks up the occasional photography/painting job; Creates a small line of jewelry made from recycled plastic shopping bags, and design products for non-profit and fair trade companies (Sticking with several smaller projects and part-time jobs makes it easier to avoid getting a "real" job and to find time for creative pursuits)
- emilygracesuitcase.com, emberarts.com
What are some of the most exciting opportunities you have had since graduation?
For the past three years, I've worked with a fair trade company called Ember Arts as their jewelry designer. They partner with a co-op of war-affected women in Uganda who make jewelry out of recycled paper. I travel to Uganda each year to teach the women new designs and also a bit about color theory. This has been such an enormous blessing, because I think I have finally figured out a way to combine my three greatest loves; travel, creating, and social justice issues. I'm becoming more and more intrigued by the examples I've seen of fair business practices radically transforming communities, and have been so encouraged to see many of the women we work with build savings accounts, send their children to good schools, and start sustainable businesses of their own. These ladies are some of the most joyful and resilient people I've ever met, and have taught me profound lessons about forgiveness and hospitality.
How do you feel that the Biola art department prepared you for your life as an artist?
I didn't know much about Biola when I decided to go there, it was almost on a whim, and I am very grateful that it's where I ended up. My studio classes at Biola drastically improved my work, and I feel fortunate to have had lots of exposure to the wider art world, particularly in the Los Angeles area.
My professors were knowledgeable and accessible to their students, but I had a lot of freedom to figure out what I was most interested in as an artist and find my own style.
Most importantly, though, discussions about what it means to be a believer who is also called to be artist really affected my direction in life. I wrestled with those ideas for the first few years after graduation and definitely floundered a bit- at one point I really did resign myself to working at Starbucks for the rest of my life. But ultimately, those and other conversations led me to be much more trusting of God's direction, and more intentional about the way that I live and make art.
Any advice for future Biola art majors?
Since college, I've seen how relationships with other artists and creative people are the things that keep me growing and moving forward, that have pulled me out of a couple of pits here and there, and have connected me to almost every great opportunity I've had in life. Having a supportive community of friends and mentors has allowed me to take a lot of risks in life and ultimately discover the place I feel that I am called to be. Biola is a great place to start building that community.