ArtistCorps Alumni Stories: Angel Fant

Angel Fant served in ArtistCorps from 2015 through 2017, and combined her skills in visual arts, wig & makeup and fashion design with her passion for serving her community. She is currently building her business, No Punching Bag, a fashion brand dedicated to raising awareness around domestic violence and helping survivors rebuild their lives. Her fashion pieces were featured at Paris Fashion Week in February, in partnership with Flying Solo.   

What made you decide to serve in ArtistCorps?

I was already serving in the community, but I wanted to serve with the School of the Arts and ArtistCorps was a good opportunity to do that. They were building their outreach programming as far as numbers, and I have a lot of connections in the community. I wanted to use my connections to help the program expand, while also using my skills as an artist. When I saw the ArtistCorps opportunity for visual arts I applied!

Tell us about a moment from your service that stands out to you.

I had the opportunity to take UNCSA into places they wouldn’t normally be seen, like food pantries where people are waiting for food. I did art with kids there, or income-based apartments where they have community centers. I served in those places, which I’d already had a connection to, but to bring UNCSA there was really nice. It was great to expose the kids to the School of the Arts. 

How did this opportunity shape your perception of service or of the communities you served?

I think it shaped the community’s perceptions of the School of the Arts and how they’re serving. It gave a different view to Winston-Salem and other people in the community who didn’t think they could be part of the School of the Arts or that it was a place they could go or whatnot. There’s not a lot of people of color at UNCSA, but if children see someone who looks like them it changes their ideal of what is available to them.

What was your biggest takeaway from your service in ArtistCorps? 

I built relationships with professionals in the public schools and I’ve maintained those relationships. Some of those kids that had met me then, too, those relationships are thriving. Building relationships is important, serving is important, realizing that your service to your community doesn’t really stop when your ArtistCorps service stops. Building those relationships is very important; I was there for two years. These people become family. I’ll forever put ArtistCorps on my resume as something that I’m proud of.

Before I came to ArtistCorps I had already served in Nicaragua and other places doing art with kids, and it’s one thing to go across the world to serve, but we need it here as much as we need it in other places in the world. I think that some people don’t think that. They go to other places and serve. That’s great. But we need people here, and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of that and see more than what I was already seeing. 

How has ArtistCorps influenced your life and work since you left service? 

It encourages me to speak up when people say that UNCSA isn’t doing anything with the community. I am a voice for what ArtistCorps has provided for our community. It influences me to help other people to get involved, like when I did the mural at Speas—Ronald Williams, a volunteer I recruited—ended up applying to ArtistCorps. He served with ArtistCorps and then was hired as an art teacher in the public school system.

I’m always glad to see something on social media about people serving with ArtistCorps. It makes me proud to know that it is still going. And you need funding to keep ArtistCorps going, so it’s good for the conversation to be out there so people know they can fund different programs at UNCSA.   

Prior to ArtistCorps, my UNCSA experience was that the School of the Arts has a lot of shows and the students work the shows, and the students are very tired, and they just work really hard, and they really don’t get anything from the outside world outside of shows. But now this opportunity is available to them. As artists, we need an outlet that lets us serve through what we love doing, because when you’re not doing what you love or what you’re passionate about you get burned out and you don’t feel like you’re where you need to be. So, the opportunity to do art and give back to your community at the same time is a huge deal.

What are you up to now? What’s next?

I’m still doing my business, No Punching Bag. I’m working on my brand, working and serving as an artist and that’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life. I take different opportunities when they come, and I create opportunities for myself and others and that’s what I’m doing. That’s what’s next always.

October 02, 2019