Volunteer Spotlight on Ariel Shamas

Ariel Shamas, a recent graduate of Arizona State University’s Graphic Design program, made the decision to share her expertise as an artist and photographer with Free Arts.  Her very first experience was at our Gift Making Free Arts Days held at our office this past December.  As the children participated in one of several holiday-themed art projects, Ariel photographed the children and volunteer mentors in action.  “It was amazing because it was a gathering of so many kids, volunteer mentors, and staff.”  After the event, Ariel decided she wanted to have a more hands-on approach with the children we work with.  She imparted her photographic skills as a teaching artist assistant for our recent Professional Teaching Artist Series, To Be Me.  For 8 weeks, she met consistently with young woman from a foster care group home.  Ariel recalls noticing the hesitation in some of the girls who had never used a camera before.  As a teaching artist assistant, Ariel encouraged the young women to try their hands at the new skills.  The results made her joyful.  “The younger girls in the group who had been hesitant to handle the camera really took to it.  The smile and the shine in their eyes made me feel full,” she adds.  Ariel plans to continue volunteering at Free Arts.  “I believe that anyone who has dealt with trauma and chronic stress deserves a safe space and art to unwind.  I believe that Free Arts provides that space, and more.”