Storyboard: Regina Dowling-Jones

Creativity is a universal language

My ArtCenter journey began 12 years ago. Honestly, I never expected to end up here.

I’m a singer and actor with a Bachelor’s in Musical Theater Performance from Oklahoma City University. Upon first arriving at ArtCenter, I had only the most rudimentary notion of what “design thinking” was. Imagine my surprise when I was thrown fully into the mix of things with the College’s Corporate Relations/Development team. To say I started from the bottom would be an understatement.

I started temping before eventually graduating to the role of administrative assistant. I was a sponge, constantly soaking up influences. I found that I could relate, on a personal level, to the benefits that the College’s sponsored project programs were affording students. The way I see it, everyone has the capacity to be creative. Creativity is a universal language.

To be brutally honest, the first two years I worked at ArtCenter, part of me thought about leaving it all behind and diving headfirst into my lifelong dream of being a working actor. The stage has always been where my heart is; it’s what feeds me emotionally. Alas, times were tough, and a creative life is a privileged life. Keep in mind, this was 2008 and the economy was crumbling.

Corporations around the globe know and respect ArtCenter, which has only enriched the quality of the College’s sponsored projects. The sponsors get a front row seat in identifying new talent as they glean a fresh, contemporary perspective when they work with the students; and the students are tackling real-world design challenges while learning first-hand how to actually build a career in design. It’s a beautifully reciprocal relationship.

When ArtCenter first started doing sponsored projects many years ago, the concept was still novel and ArtCenter was very much ahead of the curve. These sponsored projects were designed to facilitate collaborative, communal experiences, where students can get to know the professionals who hire them before they even graduate. Many of the school’s foremost collaborators are alumni who are now working for some of the top global brands.

I’ve never been prouder of ArtCenter than in seeing how we’ve all managed to adapt to this strange new COVID world we’re now living in. I remember getting the notice that we were going remote like it was yesterday. We were halfway through spring term, and midterms were just around the corner. We had six sponsored projects going in tandem. Then, in the breath of an instant, everything changed.

In two weeks, ArtCenter went totally virtual. Many of us, understandably, harbored apprehension about what the future might hold in store. The College had been talking about “going online” for years, but this was something else. Our hand had been forced. It was time to sink or swim.

Our students are makers. So many of the projects they tackle require prototyping, modeling, and other forms of tactile creation. Their adaptation to this new way of learning was nothing short of remarkable. By going completely virtual, the collective energy of the student body began to intensify in focus. Since they weren’t working on physical prototypes, the students had even more time to refine their designs. The resulting digital prototypes were far more developed than they might have otherwise been, largely because the students had the benefit of added time.

The students are, against the odds and in spite of Zoom fatigue, operating at the peak of their skill set. In the face of unthinkable odds, they are making the transition as gracefully as they can.

We’re all dying to get back to connecting in person. Unfortunately, we’ve got a ways to go. Moving forward, we must take what we’ve learned from this whole tumultuous process and apply it to whatever tomorrow brings.

I’m proud to say that the ArtCenter faculty and staff are working overtime to create the best future for the students throughout this transition. If we continue on our current trajectory, the sky is the limit.

Regina Dowling-Jones
Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Development Communications

The students are, against the odds and in spite of Zoom fatigue, operating at the peak of their skill set.

Regina Dowling-JonesVice President, Strategic Partnerships
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