Almost a year ago we announced that we would be hosting an annual scholarship for college students. Our idea was that we would contribute a set amount every year, and the rest of the money would be raised via a pay-what-you-want compilation curated by us. The applicants would be required to write a short essay describing what they want to achieve with their education, how DIY art-making has influenced them, and how the two concepts are intertwined. We are very pleased to announce that the winner for the 1st Dérive Scholarship Fund is Stenka Vulova, who is studying for her master's in Ecology at The Université de Poitiers. Our runner-up is Izzy Diamond. Check out both their essays below and listen to the comp here! AND stay tuned for info on next year's scholarship.
To apply for the Scholar’s Hip Fund we ask for an essay in two parts. In the first, in 666 words or less, please explain to us how the local music or arts community has had a positive effect on your education and aspirations.
In June of 2014, I met the Atlanta-based blues band Mudcat for the first time at Tunes from the Tombs in the Historic Oakland Cemetery. Two months later, I found myself in La Poèterie, “Village d’Artistes” in Saint-Sauveur, France, at the beginning of my journey as tour manager for Mudcat’s 2014 European tour. During the three-week tour, which traversed France, Switzerland, and Italy, I sold more than $1,600 worth of Mudcat CDs, managed the band’s finances, and provided publicity for the band in person and through social media. This experience, which had its roots in friendship fostered in Northside Tavern, one of Atlanta’s emblematic dive bars, inspired me to invest more effort into promoting my own artistic passion – visual arts, particularly oil painting.
Becoming closely involved with the music business also introduced me to some inherent biases in the arts and music communities. My friend Shannon Kirk, a bass player who facilitated the opportunity for me to manage Mudcat in their international tour, introduced me to the cultural barriers she has faced in order to succeed in the male-dominated bass world. Whether playing in local Atlanta venues or the Blues to Bop Festival in Lugano, Switzerland, she is most often the only female bass player in band line-ups. Other musicians are often not shy to openly express skepticism concerning her abilities.
This year, I was honored by the opportunity to exhibit my artwork in the first Ladyfest Atlanta. Ladyfest Atlanta further enlightened me to the broader context of the dynamic I observed in my friend’s experience as a female bass player. Ladyfest Atlanta’s focus on intersectionality also validated my own life and career experiences as a female first-generation immigrant working in the engineering field.
Participating in Ladyfest Atlanta has re-invigorated my desire to succeed in a male-dominated STEM professional field. In furthering my education in environmental engineering, I hope to work towards creating a more sustainable and environmentally just world.
In my current role as an Environmental Analyst in an environmental consulting and transportation planning firm, I took a training course focusing on environmental justice as it relates to transportation projects. Through this course, I learned that historically, adverse environmental impacts were planned to disproportionately affect minority and/or low-income populations. Due to the influence of the civil rights and environmental justice movements, transportation projects are now mandated to explicitly address environmental justice issues. Ladyfest Atlanta, which provided a space for critical dialogue around the intersections of sexism, racism, and classism, inspired me to incorporate community outreach centering on these issues in my work within the environmental sector in the future.
Furthermore, Ladyfest Atlanta encouraged my own growth as an artist and immersed me in the Atlanta art world, leading to opportunities to become an artist member of the Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery and to publicly exhibit my art in other venues, including at an art exhibit organized by the City of Duluth this May. I am also organizing a call for art submissions through my current company, which will largely be guided by the Ladyfest Atlanta contacts and ethos.
Most importantly, Ladyfest Atlanta has allowed me to place my own personal experiences in a broader context and has inspired me to actively work towards addressing discrimination and injustice while working towards my artistic and professional development.
In the second part, please tell us in less than 200 words what you plan to study and how you plan to combine that education with what you’ve learned in your own arts scene.
I am pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology starting in the fall of 2015. The engineering and environmental professional world, much like the arts world, faces issues with diversity. Greater inclusivity in this field is essential to addressing issues of environmental justice (and injustice). Ladyfest Atlanta provided me with a model on how to begin to address skewed representation – through dialogue between various communities, by critically evaluating which groups are represented, and by conscious effort to work towards attaining greater inclusivity.
Participating in Ladyfest Atlanta has motivated me to work towards greater inclusivity of underrepresented groups in both the arts and engineering fields, both of which I am passionate about. I am already working toward this goal by organizing a call for visual art submissions facilitated by my current company. I plan to take intersectionality into consideration when organizing the call for submissions by focusing outreach on organizations that value diversity and intersectionality, including Ladyfest Atlanta, the Low Museum, and the local Atlanta women’s group Dream Warriors. I hope to provide more underrepresented artists with an opportunity to be paid and appreciated for their artistic efforts.
Upon entering high school four years ago, while being a shy, unenlightened, and essentially lonely person, I encountered a person who to this day continues to be my best friend; some know him all around New England as Holy Shadow, others as the singer for Street Sity Surf, but, to me, he is just Greg Strong. I started going to shows in the greater Portland (Maine) area to see him and other similar bands perform in independently run venues such as the Space for Grace (formally known as the Meg Perry Center), the Poland Street house, the Eswhy Eskay A Farm, and Local Sprouts, a restaurant/co-op. I started to meet new people, musicians, artists, poets, and activists who want nothing more than to share what they trust and believe, to make known important causes and issues in our society.
This sense of community is vital; it is important for every person to have a safe and inviting community where one can share their ideas on topics such as gender, sexuality, race, religion, politics, hate crimes, capital punishment, yet never is there any judgement or hostility; each person is open to be themselves and express themselves in any way they wish.
It is this community that has actually helped keep me alive. During my years in high school, I experienced my own personal hardships with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, and self harm. My friendships I created through this community supported me throughout, helped me grow and gain the confidence that I needed. It was Greg McKillop who asked me once after a show if I wanted to read my poetry in an upcoming show. I had never considered my work worthwhile let alone something other people wished to hear. Though I do not perform often, the few times I have have been liberating moments, and to know that people are inspired by your art is a compliment that is sometimes difficult to accept but all too meaningful.
I would not be the person I am today if it had not been for the Portland community, for all of these loving people that surround me who support me in all that I do, whether it be poetry, makeup design, painting, my expression of religion (my new identity in Islam as of December 2014), or opinions on certain topics.
Next fall I will be attending the Creighton University (a Catholic and Jesuit college) in Omaha, Nebraska. My Jesuit education in high school has been a very important part of my life as they represent, too. The Jesuits seeks to always exceed and do more in everything one does, to care for the individual person (and to treat everyone with equality), to develop the one’s whole self, mind, body, and spirit, and to promote justice through education, charity, and personal reflections. These values reflect the values that the Portland DIY scene also strives to achieve through personal relationships within the community.
I plan on majoring in English Secondary Education and minoring in Theology. I hope to move back to Maine in the future and teach at a local high school, possibly a Catholic school. I hope to be able to incorporate my own experiences and values through my teaching. Literature offers students with many social issues from the past and present that are relevant in our own society. Reading literature from different eras, different cultures, even different genders helps to cultivate a growing individual. The high school years are a crucial time for the developing individual -- I hope to be able to help them on their own journey to become caring, open, and creative people. As Voltaire wrote in “Candide”, “We must cultivate our garden”. We should always strive to grow new ideas, work in harmony with nature, work with others, be thankful for what we have, be productive, and never restrict ourselves from what we are capable of achieving and sharing with others.