I grew up surrounded by the arts – from begrudgingly stopping at every gallery at the coast on family weekend trips as a kid, to being dropped off after school at the GFU art office until my parents got off work (if you can imagine, the art office used to just be what the mat cutting room is now), to being babysat by art students up until high school. I knew that I loved the people in the arts and the creative energy that surrounded me when I was with them. Therefore, when I chose to be an Arts Major at GFU my freshman year I knew that it wasn’t because I was necessarily good at one particular medium or because I wanted to be a professional artist, but because I wanted to learn how to be an active participant in this creative energy.
I remember the season before graduation and the ridiculous amount of questions such as “what are you going to do, who are you going to be, and are you afraid to enter the real world.” My response was always the same, “I am going to live.” Life doesn’t just restart after college, you don’t suddenly enter the “real world” rather, you continue to choose to live in the real world creatively problem-solving through the variety of different transitions life offers. I deeply value the arts degree I earned at George Fox because, while I learned to create in varying mediums, I also learned how to creatively problem solve, think critically, work hard and learn from failure. These valuable lessons have taught me how to be an active participant in the arts, and have followed me into this season of life outside of school.
Since I graduated, nearly 3 years ago, I have had many wonderful opportunities, some include a couple of cross country road trips, numerous exhibitions including one with my dad at Art Elements Gallery, getting married this past summer, becoming an Auntie, climbing mountains, and getting to work for the Chehalem Cultural Center – in a variety of different positions – but currently as the Arts & Public Programming Coordinator. All of these experiences have required the skills I learned as an arts major in one way or another. Life has continued rolling on since school and whether on a hike, playing with my niece, or hanging art at work it is a life that I love and that will continue to evolve over time in ways I could never anticipate. Life outside of school is just life continuing on. It is something to look forward to, to be creative about and to embrace.
-Erin Terry Padilla