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News > Event News > Alumni Black Box #2 - The Arts

Alumni Black Box #2 - The Arts

Episode #2 of our Future Ready: Alumni Black Box Conversations brought together some amazingly talented and successful ISKL alumni in The Arts ... Read More
13 Apr 2021
Written by Nicky Mohd
Event News

“Am I meant to be this artist that I’m trying to be? If the answer is ‘yes’ then you’ve got no problems.” Final words to aspiring artists during the Black Box event from Kirstin Chavez, ISKL Class of 1987, Mezzo-Soprano and Associate Professor at the University of Utah.

The inspiring and informative event features alumni from across the artistic spectrum. Along with Kirstin, our alumni host, Hezril Asyraaf (‘13), is joined by artist Haffendi Anuar (‘04), filmmaker Tony Pietra Arjuna (‘96), and film composer Varqa Buehrer (‘03). Each share their personal journey in their respective professions and their tips for other aspiring creatives.

Each panelist opens up about their experiences at university as well as the day-to-day work that “pays the bills”. The wide-ranging discussion also delves into the impact of Covid-19 on artists whose professional lives revolve around exhibiting in galleries and performing onstage. For Haffendi, who completed the final term of his Masters at the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford online during the UK’s lockdown, the lack of gallery time over the past 12 months has been a great challenge. He admits, “I mourned the loss of the studio and the workshop...and it was detrimental to my creative fitness.” Haffendi continues, “It took a while...I believe in adapting to a new method of communication, of sharing work...but I’m missing the physical space, going into a gallery and seeing an artwork in the flesh.” 

A recurring theme is the importance of resilience and of artists being entrepreneurial in the way they approach their careers. Agreeing with Kirstin who has recently developed an entrepreneurship course for musicians at the University of Utah where she teaches singing, Varqa says, “As a musician, you can’t just be a musician, you also have to be a business kind of have to understand how to sell yourself almost.”

While the pandemic has brought challenges, there are also opportunities, notably for those working in the booming online streaming industry, including Tony. His final message for students is to be prepared to adapt to change. He encourages, “Roll with the punches!”


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