Meet Mikaila Simmons
I am the Phoenix Center for the Arts Marketing Intern for the summer of 2021. I have been involved in the arts since I could remember and always knew I wanted to work with other creative people and take my passion for art into my career life. I am currently working towards my degrees in; Theatre Performance, Theatre Management, and Business Marketing at Waldorf University.
I started my performing arts experience when I was 7 years old, participating in youth theatre, trying to be involved in as many shows as I possibly could. This continued into high school where I became a theatre honor student through the Thespian Honor Society Troupe 7014. Being involved in Thespian Troupe 7014 paved the way for me to take my love for the performing arts into the collegiate world. Because of this, I was invited to audition for colleges and universities leading me to the university that I am currently attending. At Waldorf University I assistant stage manage, act, and prop design, as well as occasionally running the sound and lighting for my theatre department. Even though my focus is in Theatre Arts I have a passion for all types of art styles and hope that my internship with Phoenix Center for the Arts will lead me to a career in the world of art marketing.
My goal for my career is to work somewhere where I know that the people I am working with value art as a part of education, which is very much true of Phoenix Center for the Arts. During my time here with the Center, I will be working with the staff to launch the Centers’ TikTok account, and I look forward to watching the account grow even after my internship ends. I value everything that I have learned and will learn while being an intern with all of these creative people here at Phoenix Center for the Arts.
Stop the Presses! Celebrating Wendy Willis
What advice would Wendy Willis give to all the budding artists out there: “Take classes!”
This is just one of the reasons we are celebrating Wendy as she announces her retirement as the Printmaking Department Head at Phoenix Center for the Arts. Wendy began working at the Center in 2010, after almost 15 years of taking classes at the Center.
Wendy shared how she started, “In 1995, I worked for the Street Transportation Department, and we had a meeting at the Center. I saw a flyer for a life drawing class and I signed up. Even though I hadn’t drawn since 1971, I nailed my first gesture drawing. The negative voice I last heard in ‘71 was gone and a new voice said ‘look what you can do’!”
Over the years, Wendy continued taking classes at the Center, and in 2002, she retired from her City job, and became a full-time artist. Her start as a teaching artist with the Center began with a beautiful collaboration. The Center was looking to build its printmaking department, and Wendy was eager to share her skills with others. So Wendy moved her printing press into the Center, and thus began her time inspiring the creativity of others at Phoenix Center for the Arts and Thunderbird Arts Center.
As an artist, what she loves most is “getting lost in the making.” Also, “the reveal of lifting the paper off the plate after running it through the press. It is magical.” In her role as a teacher, Wendy is excited how students can be successful right away. “It makes me so happy to see them learn about the mediums and be proud of what they have accomplished.”
Wendy’s favorite memory of the Center? “I took figure painting from Marlys Kubicek, and over the course of a few semesters, we became friends.” She continues, “I told her I was interested in printmaking, she suggested we take David Manje’s classes. We did that for a couple years and I learned that I was a printmaker. So my best memory is of becoming friends with Marlys, one of my best friends to this day. When I became the Printmaking Department Head, it all came full circle.”
Even before the pandemic hit, Wendy says she was ready to retire due to family health issues that took away from the time she could focus on art. The staff, students, and volunteers at BOTH Centers will miss her as part of the team and wish her all the best in her retirement. Her parting words of encouragement?
“I have met the most wonderful people, some of my best friends, in the classes I have taken. It helped to have a buddy, like Marlys, but even alone, I made friends and learned so much. Try a variety of mediums, you never know if making jewelry, printmaking, or painting is your thing. Say yes! Even if you’re unsure.” Wendy has taken arts classes all over the Valley, but says, “I started at Phoenix Center for the Arts, and it will always have my heart.”
Add Your Voice
This month, Phoenix Center for the Arts and Thunderbird Arts Center added their voice in support of inclusivity and protection to two letters, drafted for our Arizona government officials, by the Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL) and ONE Community (ONE).
In each letter, along with over 100 Arizona businesses, we stand in solidarity with our local Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and LGBTQ+ communities, in these requests for equal protections and opportunities under Arizona law. Phoenix Center for the Arts and Thunderbird Arts Center encourage the community to join together to stop hate, and put an end to inequality.
Read the letter from the ACEL, requesting “to make the prevention and prosecution of hate crimes against AAPI a top priority in your governmental agenda.”
Read the letter from ONE, writing “in support of non-discrimination ordinances that protect all people, including LGBTQ people, from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.”
For resources on how you can add your voice in support of equal rights and protections under the law:
· ACEL recommends visiting stopaapihate.org for resources on how you can contribute to the movement to stop anti-Asian hate.
· ONE invites you to take the Unity Pledge at openaz.co to show your commitment to improving the future of Arizona.
Indigenous Peoples Day
Phoenix Center for the Arts acknowledges that it resides on the land of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People. Land that was cultivated for centuries, and is stewarded today by the Akimel O’odham (Pima), Tohono O’odham, as well as the Pee Posh (Maricopa), who are the indigenous peoples of this land. We share our gratitude for the complex canal systems they engineered over 1000 years ago that enable us to live here in the Sonoran Desert today. We acknowledge the sovereignty of all Native Nations within the state of Arizona, and recognize our responsibility to honor Indigenous People, their culture, and their legacy as thriving contemporary communities by advocating for decolonized, inclusive, and diverse practices for all arts and culture institutions.
Indigenous Peoples Day recognizes that Native people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, honors their history, and celebrates their culture. Visit the Indigenous Peoples Day Arizona website for more information about #IndigenousPeoplesDay and how to celebrate in Arizona.
Photograph of Daniel Ramirez, artist at the 2017 Phoenix Festival of the Arts. Daniel is a descendant of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, and his work has been shown in museums and arts shows throughout the country. Visit his website https://sites.google.com/site/danielramirezart/ to learn more about Daniel and his artwork.
Call to Action
Phoenix Center for the Arts and Thunderbird Arts Center stand against racism and social injustice. Now is a time to act in support of one another, sharing love, kindness, and compassion. We encourage our friends and neighbors to find ways to speak up and work to change the systems of power that perpetuate inequity, violence, and injustice.
There are so many ways you can help. Our colleagues at Local First Arizona recently shared this list of ways that we can mobilize to support the black community, both with our dollars and our voices.
Speak up. Now is not the time to remain silent. There are so many steps that need to be taken to begin moving in the right direction if we are ever to achieve equity in the country, in the state, and in our local communities. Let’s be a part of the solution, together.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.