The counselor-liaisons at the Summer Arts Institute are our secret weapons. They’re as adept at having a cabin meeting heart-to-heart as they are in helping students with their artistic work. Many of them are OSAI alumni who went through the Quartz Mountain experience themselves, and they’re also working artists in their own right—skilled in the disciplines in which they serve as OSAI liaisons.
We talked to a few of the liaisons who will be working with us on OSAI at Home: Lizzie Forman (Acting), Emily Lower (Dance), Tyne Shillingford (Dance) and Cole Boarman (Photography). We asked them what their lives are like outside of OSAI, and if they had any advice for both the incoming OSAI at Home students and those young alums who are navigating the college-artist balance.
Dance Liaison Emily Lower is an alum (Ballet ’09,’10; Modern Dance ’11) who grew up in Tulsa and now lives in Oklahoma City. Tyne Shillingford, of Tulsa, will be returning for her third year, also as a Dance Liaison. Both earned their BFAs in Dance, and teach and perform in their respective cities. Cole Boarman is an alum (Photography ’15,’16) and returning Photography Liaison. Cole is from Oklahoma City and says he has his camera on him almost every day. In addition to personal projects and freelance photography jobs, he works as a model scout and social media manager for Brink Model Management. Lizzie Forman is an alum (Acting ’11, ’12) who will be returning for her fourth year as an Acting Liaison. Lizzie grew up in a military family, and although she claims Colorado Springs as her hometown, she graduated from Enid High School. She received her MA in Acting from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before moving to NYC, where she’s auditioning, taking classes and working on a one-woman show.
What advice do you have for our OSAI at Home students? How can they make the most of their time and experience?
Cole: This year I would say that it’s even more important to pay attention and to focus on everything the faculty is teaching you. Even though it’s not the same experience as OSAI at Quartz Mountain, you are still attending OSAI because you are passionate about your art and want to be constantly learning and growing as an artist.
Tyne: Take it all in and be patient with yourself and this new process. Concentrate on the things you can control, and try to find joy in the smallest of things.
Emily: Eliminate distractions, stay engaged, and be present so you can absorb as much of this experience as possible. Arrive to each class with an open mind, and allow room for your growth as an artist throughout this experience. Take notes when possible, or journal. You never know how valuable those may be to future you!
Lizzie: As much as possible, try to create a sacred environment in which you can listen, focus, speak honestly and vulnerably, and be productive. Don’t be afraid to ask those you live with to respect this time and space. You may not have the studios or mountains as your playground, or a 24-hour schedule to support you, but you can take accountability for stepping into each day prepared, well-rested, fed and focused. I would also encourage you to approach this unique experience with the same gratitude and openness that you would approach a normal experience at “the mountain.” You’re not alone in your potential struggle with low at-home motivation, family dynamics, inconsistent Wi-Fi, or the fear of the unknown. Let’s see this as a chance to make art and history together!
For all of our Class of 2020 students and alums, as well as our alumni who are currently in college, what advice do you have on pursuing art right out of high school?
Tyne: Your original path may change, but your love and passion for your art form will always be there! Rely on that when classes and life challenge you.
Emily: Be disciplined and work hard, but don't judge yourself too harshly, because it makes it difficult for you to grow. Have an open mind and be willing to ask for help. Try new things and collaborate with others. Keep in touch with your classmates, peers, and professors because as you pursue your art, they will likely become your greatest resources.
Cole: Remember your roots and the experiences that helped you become the artists you are today.
Lizzie: You’re going to be experiencing so many changes in the next year! Give yourself grace. You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s cliché but true: do your best. Don’t stop until you’re proud. Take note of the truths that are core to who you are. Do not change those. But beyond that, allow your inspiration and perspective to shift and change.
What’s been the most important thing for you in pursuing your art form? What do you think can make a young artist more successful?
Emily: Be solid in knowing why you love your art and why you do it in the first place. There will be hard days. There will be people who will question your choice to pursue your art. Heck, you may even question it yourself at times. It’s in those situations when you will need to remember your “why.”
Lizzie: Do the art more than you talk about the art!
Tyne: The most important thing for me, especially when I was more in the performance part of my career, was being persistent and resilient. Pursuing any art form as a profession can be really tough. You may hear a lot of no’s and only a few yeses. Try to take those rejections in stride—you really do learn from those experiences—and practice humility when you do book that gig, get that commission, etc. I believe if young artists are persistent, resilient and humble from the beginning, success will follow.
Cole: For me, it’s always about learning and practicing so that my next image is better than my last. I’ve always been my own biggest critic, so I’m always trying to one-up myself and constantly improve my craft. As long as you are happy with your own art, I think that’s all there is to it. Art should be personal and self-rewarding; it shouldn’t be about the likes or views.
And finally, what brings you back to the Arts Institute? What are you hoping to learn—and give—during OSAI at Home?
Tyne: It's true that "Quartz Mountain Magic" exists, and I am so excited to see that magic come together in an online at-home experience. That's why I keep coming back, because of that magic! It's evident in the young artists and in the collaborations that take place between them. I’m always so inspired when I’m surrounded by the inclusive artistic community at OAI.
Lizzie: OSAI is such a safe place of creative and personal growth, and I am so grateful for the chance to return to “the mountain” again this year. I’m looking forward to the unique conversations, memories, and work that will come from this virtual version of Quartz. I am hoping to learn more about creative leadership and communication, and I am hoping to bring some of that contagious Quartz enthusiasm!
Cole: Before I went to OSAI for the first time, I had never been acknowledged as an actual artist. I remember sitting in the Performing Arts Center and listening to Emily Claudé tell the parents how great of an accomplishment it was for the students to be attending OSAI. I started crying. My teachers, the faculty, the staff, and the students I have met throughout my three summers at Quartz are the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. Every moment spent with OSAI teaches me something new about myself and my craft. My goal is to be a guide to all the young artists that need to know that they are valid and seen.
Emily: I've always cherished the magical summers I've spent at OSAI. I look forward to being on this team that is bringing a little QM Magic to our students through OSAI at Home!