Creativity Salon: an Interview with Erica Brown

I met Erica briefly at YALSA’s Young Adult Literature Symposium in Albuquerque.  My friend, Flo Trujillo, Día Dynamo and Youth Services Coordinator at the Farmington Public Library (NM) proudly gave me a copy of Blended Zine edited by Erica and staffed by her fellow teens in San JuanCounty, New Mexico. I was so impressed by the quality of the work in the zine and by the fact that this is a teen production.  What a fine model of school, library, and community cooperation.

My name is Erica Brown, I’m 17 years old, a senior in high school and I have been home schooled my entire life. I’m involved in several programs besides Blended such as Mayor’s Teen Advisory Council, UMATTR (http://www.umattr.com/), coaching second grade cheerleading for Upward basketball, and Student Leadership and the Worship team through my church. In January of 2009 when I was 15 years old, I applied for a position at Blended Zine. I had submitted before and thought it was a really cool project, so I wanted to get involved. I was hired as a general staff member and joined the 12 person staff. In June of ’09 after the current editor graduated, I was promoted to the position of editor.

Do you think of yourself as creative?
EB: I would definitely think of myself as of creative. My whole life I’ve loved experimenting with different art forms whether it was painting, drawing, writing or music. I always try to do something different and think outside of the box. Creativity is one of the most defining aspects of my life. I like to be different from what most people are doing. I like to be crazy and stay on the edge of new and exciting things.

In what ways does creativity shape your life?
EB: I love creativity in any form. I love dancing and learning new things and figuring out things that haven’t been done. I also love music. I love just experimenting with music to make something different or a new sound. Something I really enjoy is making sidewalk murals with chalk. Chalk is one of my favorite mediums. For Blended over the past few years I have submitted a broad range of pieces. Drawing, etchings, paintings, digital art, and in our most recent issue, poetry! I really like expressing myself in so many different ways.

Blended, May 2010

 As for balancing school and creativity, I think the two can be a wonderful combination. I truly believe that creativity produces rational thinking because when you don’t limit yourself to the norms, you open up your mind to so much more! You can look at things from more perspectives. One of my favorite subjects is math. Although math is very precise, there are limitless possibilities that are just wonderful to explore, and for me personally this sparks a lot of curiosity. No matter what subject you are researching or writing on, creativity can helps you see things from new perspectives or different viewpoints.

That’ s why Blended is such a great program for teens to get involved with. It sparks creativity. We’ve had many teachers tell us that they’ve had students improve in school after submitting and getting published in Blended. I think that’s one of the greatest effects a program like this could ever have.


Blended, December 2010

 Blended Zine has been one of the biggest parts of my life for the past two years. I was so blessed with the opportunity to be part of the program and it has changed my life in more ways than I can list. I am currently working on the eighth issue, and my fifth and last issue as part of the staff. It has been a truly amazing experience!

Tell us about your most memorable teacher.
EB: I have been home schooled my entire life [so] my most memorable teacher is definitely my mom! She has taught me the importance of thinking for myself, being my own person and just being myself! Although, I have been taking college classes part time since my junior year, in my second semester I took inter-personal communication. My teacher was wonderful! She definitely made a profound impact on my life.

Release Party December 2010

Blended Zine is published three times each year by the Farmington Public Library, Farmington NM. All submissions and published pieces are from students, ages 13-19, living in San Juan County. The Mission Statement states “Blended strives to be a positive influence and helps teens stay connected and involved with the community. Along with the Farmington Public Library, Blended enlightens, enriches, and changes lives by providing innovative, optimistic and constructive influences for adolescents.

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Uno, Dos, Tres: One, Two, Three Featured Title for Summer Reading Program
Pat’s picture book Uno, Dos, Tres: One, Two, Three is a featured title for this summer’s Collaborative Summer Library Program’s (CSLP) theme “One World, Many Stories.” TeachingBooks.net has created an audio clip of Pat talking about how she came to write the book, and reading from it.


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