Alexis Campos found her passion as a teaching artist and gallery assistant in the University of Arizona’s Art and Visual Culture Education program, where “everywhere I turned there was someone always willing to guide me and share their knowledge,” she said.
And now Campos, named the School of Art’s Outstanding Senior for fall 2023, is sharing that knowledge with children from the Sunnyside Unified School District, where she attended classes while growing up on Tucson’s South Side.
“It’s just so sweet to go into the community and work one-on-one with students and show them the ways art can be a part of their lives … and one of the sweetest experiences has been visiting my old elementary and middle schools to teach kids in my own community,” said Campos, who attended Esperanza and Liberty Elementaries, Apollo Middle School, and Sunnyside High School.
Campos works as a teaching artist at the Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), where she was honored with the K-12 Impact Award and led a summer camp on puppetry arts as an intern. She also is a gallery assistant at Decode Gallery, engaging the public, facilitating openings, and installing works in the downtown venue.
“Alexis is one of our strongest AVCE students. Her work includes significant contributions to museums and community arts,” wrote Associate Professor Carissa DiCindio in her nominating letter. “Alexis is a leader through her engagement in class projects and assignments in AVCE — and in teaching children through the school’s Wildcat Art program.”
At MOCA, Campos creates lesson plans and teaches in English and Spanish in K-12 classrooms, working with over 450 students each semester in art workshops. Through Wildcat Art, Campos and other AVCE students spent four Saturdays in April teaching K-12 students about art, culminating in an exhibition of paintings, collages, embroidery, clay works and drawings.
Campos became interested in art education while taking her introductory courses at the School of Art. “This is when I came across the AVCE program and learned about all of the amazing things I could do in the world of museums,” she said, “and the ways that I could create change through the arts.”
As an undergrad, Campos led a grief and artmaking workshop for Tucson Compassionate Friends and worked as a visitor services assistant and intern at the Arizona State Museum. She created and organized educational activities for students in grades K-5 at ASM, where she also completed an honor’s project in which she designed and led an interactive tour on textiles for her AVCE classmates.
DiCindio worked with Campos for more than a year on the student’s Honors College thesis, which focused on curating an exhibition by Latinx artists in the Tucson community. “Dr. DiCindio’s wisdom, compassion, kindness and expertise opened my mind to the possibilities of what being an art educator looks like,” Campos said.
A thesis show fell through, but Campos said she gained “so much insight” through her paper, which “was a way to capture the things most important to me.”
Besides DiCindio, Campos also praised other instructors in her AVCE journey, including Rachel Zollinger, Hillary Douglas, Raven Moffett, Professor David Taylor and Benjamin Davis. “Without these individuals, I don’t know if my work and academic pursuits would be at the level they are.”
Campos, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa and Tau Sigma honors societies, has received multiple awards for academic excellence, such as the Dean’s List with distinction, the Honors Thesis Award and Brown Honors scholarships.
She will receive her BFA in Art and Visual Culture Education, Community and Museums, and plans to continue working for both MOCA and the Decode Gallery.
“I intend to take a much-needed year off from college,” Campos said, “and apply to graduate school to receive my MFA in photography.”
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