Emily Iannarilli
BAC Faculty

How did you arrive at the Brookline Arts Center?
After finding the job posting by chance, I applied for what I thought would be an internship (finding out that it would actually be a job was a bonus!) as an assistant teacher with the Art and Autism program. By the end of my first day at the BAC, I knew there was something special about it. I didn’t plan on finding a home in that little brick firehouse, but I’m so glad I did.

Tell us about your background. How did you become interested in art?
I’ve been a creative person for as long as I can remember, drawing in the margins of notebooks, making increasingly complicated ’treasure maps’ for my younger siblings to follow, making jewelry, and throwing myself head-first into any artistic opportunity that came close enough to grasp. Even as a child, for me art was inextricably intertwined with storytelling. As I got older, art became my safe haven, but it also became something I felt I needed to close up into sketchbooks and keep hidden. My mother encouraged me to keep going and keep making, and I’m so grateful she did. I studied jewelry making and digital photography as well as art education and anthropology at Skidmore College. Teaching art has made me so much more comfortable sharing my work.

What passions do you bring to the BAC community?
Art-making, for me, has always been about connection and story-telling. From using art to tell stories, bridge gaps, and help us all see the ways we’re more alike than not to being able to make things to bring people together or make them smile, art is a language even when we feel we have no voice. Learning to make art together can be instrumental in bringing us together, in helping us all tell our stories, personal and collective. Teaching at the BAC has given me the opportunity to work with so many different people, across ages and backgrounds, and I’ve seen how readily a creative environment encourages us to share with and learn from one another.

What do you enjoy most about the BAC?
The community! Being part of such a lively and ever-growing group of art-makers and art-appreciators, and knowing that we’re helping a new generation discover and deepen their love of art, is an amazing feeling.

What was your favorite childhood art project?
There were so many! I tried every medium I could, taking clay classes from an artist who lived a few streets down, making ‘found art’ sculptures out of sticks in the backyard, writing and illustrating stories. However, the art pieces I remember the most are the things I made for people: the first pair of earrings I made for my mother, a drawing of my grandmother’s cat, years of handmade cards, and more recently the series of portraits I did of my college friends, and the photo stories I complied to chronicle my brothers’ sports seasons. The art that helped me connect was always the most important. For so many projects, I remember the feelings of making them more than how they turned out or where they are now.

Who are some of your art heroes?
All my young (and young-at-heart) students are my art heroes. The way they approach art, brimming with passion and questions and the thrill of making something, they either haven’t found their doubt or left it behind years ago. That energy and enthusiasm inspires me to try new things, to think outside the boxes I’ve constructed for myself, to dream wilder, to let art be joyful.

Do you have anything exciting coming up?
Summer ArtVentures! Quarantine has definitely left me with more time to focus on my practice as an artist and writer, but I miss being in the classroom, even when it’s virtual.

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