Enriching lives through art and craft


Youth Education Programs Manager, Kelly Hider, interviewed Ellyx Martinez, Arrowmont’s 2022 Summer Visions Intern. Ellyx, who is finishing up her 10-week summer internship, reflects on her experience at Arrowmont.

Kelly Hider (KH): What led you to pursuing visual art as a career?

Ellyx Martinez (EM): The art classes I was lucky enough to take when I was small always offered me a safe place to work – a feeling that, for me, became exclusive to art making.

Throughout different stages of my life, art has been a flowing constant, a frightening and beautiful means of sharing with others what I hold close.

I feel insanely lucky that I have a support system that understands the importance of artmaking in my life. That alone is what has ultimately led me to pursuing a career in art.

KH: Tell us more about your work and studio practice. What are the mediums you primarily work in, and themes that your work explores?

EM: I am a little over halfway through my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, so my work feels very fluid and in tune with what I am learning. Recently, I have worked through my own barriers to reach a place where I am learning again, not just with making, but by making what I long to feel most connected to. I’m tackling a family history I am not familiar with, reckoning with loss and disconnection while celebrating stories and moments of togetherness. Up to this point, I have primarily used painting, illustration, and printmaking to express these themes. But I recently explored my first classes in fiber arts and am excited about incorporating that into my current practice.

KH: What interested you most in the Arrowmont Visions Internship?

EM: When I saw this internship opportunity, I was most excited to spend some dedicated time here at Arrowmont. Before applying, I learned about Arrowmont’s youth outreach program, ArtReach, which was mentioned in the job description. The more I learned, the more eager I was to support such an awesome program. I was surprised and happy to learn about this important work, as I am very interested in teaching and facilitating the accessibility of art. I also understood this internship would provide opportunities for growth in multiple aspects of arts nonprofit work, which I see as invaluable to building a well-rounded skillset.

KH: What have been the most valuable learning opportunities you’ve had during your internship?

EM: Working with the East Tennessee Freedom Schools summer program has been a super engaging aspect of this internship, and one I was lucky to run into during my time here. It has been rewarding to work in the company of Lauren Farkas, the program’s art teacher, and the students who are attending.

I have learned so much from all of the people involved at this program and feel fortunate for the moments I have been able to assist in some pretty incredible art-making.

Exhibition installation and unpacking work in the gallery has also been beyond valuable. A million tasks go into setting up a show, and I was lucky enough to witness and assist in each of them. This was important for me, as someone who up to this point has had a minimal grasp on what it takes to put a show together. Ultimately though, the most fruitful part of this internship has been the interactions I’ve had with all who’ve been at Arrowmont this summer. When taking photos for the institutional advancement department, I captured some of my favorite moments, of some of my favorite work, made by the hands of the coolest people. Arrowmont’s staff has been the most welcoming, supportive, and enjoyable bunch to be around.

Whether they know it or not, my time with others here has taught me the most about the power of generosity, creativity, perseverance, and passion.

KH: How has your experience at Arrowmont – both as a participant in the spring Pentaculum program, as well as Arrowmont’s Summer Visions Intern – impacted you?

EM: The impact of this space has been immeasurable. Spending company with so many talented and wonderful people has changed everything about how I see artmaking and living life. This was true during my first week on campus, as a participant in Pentaculum, and has remained true throughout the ten weeks of this internship. Witnessing so many different artists making it work in every way possible has been beyond inspiring. The insight I have been lucky enough to receive about my own work, hit perfect marks. I am now lucky enough to adapt according to these works, reactions, and acts of kindness. So much growth I could never have anticipated has come from this opportunity, and I feel there will be a lot more to process after the internship concludes.



Originally from the West Coast, Ellyx Martinez moved to Knoxville, TN at 12 and feels a cultural connection to the Southwest and to Appalachia. Martinez considers craft an endlessly important practice — a way for people to connect with and experience their ancestral and familial histories, as well as ensuring means for a hand-made future. Martinez is completing a BFA in printmaking and painting at Virginia Commonwealth University, with minors in craft and material studies, and art history. She served as counselor and teacher’s assistant at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts at MTSU in 2021. She completed an internship at Studio Two Three, a community arts space in Richmond, VA.

ART WORKSTENNESSEE ARTS COMMISIONTENNESSEE FOR THE ARTSTennessee Specialty License PlatesEAST TENNESSEE FOUNDATIONWindgate Foundation Arrowmont is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

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