Meet ELAN’s 2011/2012 Public Relations Representative, Jamie Walsh

I was born and raised in mid-Michigan but felt the pull from the Pacific, where I quickly moved soon after my years of high school ended. Over the past nine years I have lived up and down the West Coast. This movement created a circle (literally) that has enveloped me and shaped the trajectory of my life.

After first living in Los Angeles I moved to Northern California where I received my B.A. in Art History from Humboldt State University.  I have always been fascinated by the art world and the symbiotic relationship art and culture have to one another. However, throughout my undergraduate education I became increasingly less interested in the mainstream art world and more interested what some call “outsider art.” I moved to Seattle, Washington where I became involved with the VSA Arts of Washington, volunteering at an open art space located in the Seattle Center as well as at The Vision Gallery in Pioneer Square. Through the VSA I was able to work with and support artists with disabilities, something I had been interested in getting involved with.

This lead me back to Northern California where I was able to obtain my dream job as an Art Instructor at The Studio, a non-profit arts program for adults with disabilities located in Eureka, California. In addition to being an art instructor and working directly with the artists I was also the Curator of The Cheri Blackerby Gallery, which showcased artwork made by artists at the program.  Working at The Studio was an incredibly inspiring experience and solidified my dedication to work with and for artists with disabilities.

For several personal reasons I found it was time for me to move on with my life, which took me down to Long Beach, California. I worked for a non-profit organization called Arts & Services for Disabled, Inc. at the A.R.T. Center. I held the position of Art Instructor and worked alongside a team of talented and wonderful artists, music therapists and support workers, teaching and working with adults with physical and behavioral disabilities.

I am currently pursuing my Master’s Degree in Arts Management, with a concentration in Community Arts and Non-Profit Management, at the University of Oregon. This degree will allow me to explore my interest in advocating for artists with disabilities and creating opportunities for their inclusion within their communities. I aim to run my own non-profit studio space for artists with disabilities in conjunction with an inclusive art gallery that would serve artists with and without disabilities. My intention is to provide an inclusive space, where the creativity of individuals is not prefaced by a definition of one’s abilities.  I plan on focusing my research on community based fundraising and what I am calling “the psychology of small purchases.”

I am honored and excited to be a part of the ELAN team as the Public Relations Representative. As a first year student, I look forward to representing my fellow first year cohorts and working side by side with the entire AAD community.