A.V. on the VA Lifestyle


Angelica Villagomez is a junior attending The Chicago High School for the Arts, or ChiArts. She’s a Visual Artist, or VA, who majors in Drawing and Painting. Villagomez and I first met in our freshman English class, and since then our friendship has bloomed. Though I’ve known Villagomez for some time, we have not talked in depth about our conservatory struggles and art challenges. With this interview I was able to know learn more about her art, the VA’s lifestyle and future dreams for her passion. During lunch, we settled down— her with a sandwich in hand and me, with a pen, paper, and recorder. And with that Villagomez told me her life story with art. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

What made you want to come here? At ChiArts?

AV: I’ve been drawing since the fifth grade and I felt like I could do more artwork. Before Chiarts, I felt that I only drew the same thing over and over again. So when thinking of coming here, I thought I could learn to draw something else, or learn different techniques, or experience new teachers, who know how to do art more professionally and can actually talk on the topic of art.

Are there any responsibilities you have as a VA?

AV: I know I draw well, but I feel like everyone is always telling me that I draw well and with that I’m put under this pressure to draw better and keep that expectation up or make it look better on every single project I do. So I guess the responsibility for taking pressure from others and remembering your talent. Also managing time because I pretty much suck at that, but as an art student, my responsibilities are trying to learn new concepts and doing them.

LW: Like new drawing styles?

AV: Something along those lines, I feel that we jump into new projects, over and over again. And it’s so much to take from that I don’t know what to do sometimes.

Are there any qualities that you feel are needed for this conservatory? Or any traits someone should have if they want to do this for four years?

AV: I’m not sure how to say this, but people should know what they’re making art about. You should be open-minded about what you’re doing because if you’re closed-minded about it… I think the work won’t be as strong without a purpose. For example with me, sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to do and what my next project is, so you consistently have this stress of a new topic coming in four or five weeks. And it’s not just me, other students have a hard time coming up with new concepts.

“You have to be open minded to things around you, actually having a purpose to the art, & why you want to show this point.”

Any major plans as you head into the future?

AV: Honestly I don’t know how to answer this question. Teachers and college representatives always bring up this question and I don’t know how to answer because they scare me― Well not scare me, but more so worry me. When thinking about it, I think I’ll be fine (in the future). But as an art student now, I’m not sure if I want to pursue a career in art, because I don’t know what I’ll be like in in a few years or in college. I do want to go to SIC (Southeastern Illinois College), but then again I don’t want to go if I don’t know what to do. I also don’t want to spend money on a school or major I don’t like. If I don’t became an artist I do want to be a psychiatrist.

Are there any big challenges that you’re facing right now?

AV: Yes! There are so many challenges I’ve been dealing with this school year, academic and with conservatory. Both affect the other. If I slip up in academics then I’m not focusing on my art, but if I didn’t finish a project due the next day then that affects my academic workload when I get home. I need to learn how to balance it because freshman year I was focused more on academic then conservatory, and last year I was more focused on conservatory more than academic. And I thought this year it would be better, but life happens and my plan didn’t happen.

LW: Like stay awake during class or keep yourself on track?

AV: More towards how to keep myself on track in conservatory. I feel like I’m doing everything in a rush or everything is turned in late, which I also need to work on. Another thing I struggle with is self-doubt. I’m always doubting myself when I have an idea because I never think it’s good enough, and I do that every time I have a project. I feel this need to constantly change the idea due to thinking that someone else will be like ‘that’s not a good idea’ or ‘better think a little longer.’ And my first reaction is AHHH I don’t know what to do now. Then I always go with the weakest idea I came up with and that’s one of the biggest factors of why I don’t like my artwork this year.

Lastly any advice to future VA’s entering this school?

AV: When I first came to ChiArts as a visual artist, I realized there’s tons of students who want to become artists. Even though you’re a visual artist inside and/or outside of school, it’s completely up to you to chose want kind of path you want to take, and you’ll figure it out throughout high school. Especially as a freshman, you don’t have to worry about that yet. Just enjoy your first year and figure out what you enjoy doing. The classes you’ll be taking may be different from what you thought but it’s okay to try something new.  As a student and an artist in ChiArts, please be mindful and very respectful of other students that are in different conservatories that have different talents. Never put anyone down because they can’t do the same as you, you’re here to learn and grow with each other no matter what you do.

Lydia Wilbon currently attends The Chicago High School for the Arts. She studies Creative Writing and majors in poetry. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her pets and spending time with family.

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