Arrowmont’s internship program provides an opportunity to work with staff for a three month period and learn about nonprofit administration. Alex Simental was the first studio and program intern in summer 2021. She assisted in the galleries, artist supply store, and studio departments on campus.
Alex shares her thoughts after the conclusion of her internship here:
Interning at Arrowmont has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as an artist. Learning how students, instructors and staff operate along with the financial underpinnings of the institution has been incredibly valuable to me.
I started off this internship not knowing what I would be doing but as time went on, I realized that every week I had learned something new even when it didn’t seem like it in the moment.
I started out just prepping for the next round of classes or maintaining the gallery and store, but each passing week I would be given the opportunity to take on more responsibility.
I never expected to learn about how to service equipment or the importance of relationships between students, instructors, and staff, but I’m glad I was given the opportunity to grow in various ways.
I’m surprised I was able to make so many meaningful friendships and connections. While I knew I was going to see a revolving door of artists and instructors and would have a small group of people that would remain on campus throughout the duration of my stay, I never thought I would get the chance to truly connect.
I’ve always been shy and afraid to make friends but Arrowmont has helped me come out of my shell and discover things I never knew about myself. Arrowmont is special, in that it brings similar people together that would have never crossed paths otherwise.
I’m lucky to have been given this experience. It’s surreal, because I’ve always read others’ experiences and assumed it would never happen to me but I was wrong to assume. Anyone can have a meaningful experience if they’re willing to try.
Even though my next step is to expand my studio practice by beginning an MFA in painting, what I have learned is invaluable to my long-term goals in the non-profit sector. I hope to eventually create a non-profit organization that focuses on art therapy for adolescents but also provides classes in art, music, and culinary arts. Arrowmont has provided me with a network and foundation to see it through.
One important takeaway from Arrowmont I’ll apply most in the future is to remember my core mission, whatever that may ultimately be. There were many instances that I found that staff were careful to highlight what Arrowmont finds important and to remember to ask whether the decisions being made still reflected their core mission. I think this can be applied to many aspects of life. Not only can I apply this to how I carry myself in life or any organization I may work for, but also the messages I choose to send through my own artwork. Defining my own mission will be key to any projects I choose to take on.
The next Program Intern should know to not be afraid to make suggestions or let people know what they’d like to learn about or do. There were times I hesitated to reach out when I shouldn’t have, because ultimately everyone was so willing and encouraging to let me succeed.
While it’s been only a few weeks since I left Arrowmont, I can already tell that it will have a lasting effect on me for the rest of my life.
Sophia Alexandra Simental is a Mexican American multidisciplinary artist from Huntington, WV. She completed her BFA in visual art with an emphasis in sculpture and a minor in psychology at Marshall University in 2021. Her most recent projects draw from experiences with adolescent depression and examine the psychological influences on and solutions to mental health. Through surrealist paintings, ceramic sculptures, and the layering of sound in audio work, Simental references characteristics of the subconscious.
Her work has been included in the Spring 2018 Foundations Review: Selected Student Works juried exhibition (2nd place), the 34th Annual Student Juried Show (3rd place), and the 35th Annual Student Juried Show (1st place) at Marshall University and in the 13th Annual Best of West Virginia Show at Tamarack Marketplace in Beckley, WV. In 2019, she attended a glass casting and flameworking workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts. In 2020, Simental received two of Marshall’s prestigious, university-wide Creative Research and Discovery Awards; one for a project that explores the importance of rekindling ambitions, and another that highlights the significance of improving mental health in adolescence and displays the importance and positive impact of teacher intervention to struggling students.
This past summer she interned at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts and participated in a paper sculpture workshop. She is now pursuing an MFA in painting in the School of Art and Design at Alfred University and their joint studio facility in Düsseldorf, Germany.