Activism through art

Student Gabrielle Matlock sketches life for herself through passion for environmental activism.

Rebecca Dickson, Reporter

Two opposing forces meet. Instead of canceling, it might just cause a world of change.

Gabrielle Matlock, a Pierce College Running Start student, is aiming to make advocate for environmental change, possibly through art.

Matlock was inspired to go into the field of environmental studies after taking a plant science class from her high school.

According to Matlock, this class inspired her to care more for the environment.

“We took so much away from (the earth),” Matlock said. “We owe it.”

During her plant science class, Matlock’s teacher suggested those who liked the class volunteer with the Emergency Food Network by working at Mother Earth Farms, an organic farm which provides food for food banks through the Emergency Food Network. Matlock volunteered for an entire summer, and comes in to volunteer when the farm is short staffed.

“I loved being in the sun,” Matlock said. “I loved knowing that my contribution was actually making a difference.”

Originally, Matlock was going to graduate from Pierce in the spring with an associate of arts DTA. After that, she was going to graduate with a business degree. This changed quickly.

“I was told by a professor I was too interesting to do something so boring,” Matlock said.

Matlock then realized her passion for the environment. She now plans to go into environmental policy.

“Why not get into a position where my voice would make a change?” Matlock said.

Matlock also holds a passion for art, which leads her to believe she may use that passion to help others understand why environmental activism is important. This interest was peaked in the art class she took to simply get some credits.

“My professor (Peter Thurston) helped move me along in the arts and motivate me to continue,” Matlock said.

Although her muse changes every three months, some main themes come out from her art – mental health and the environment.

Within the last six months, one theme of her art has been amplifying people’s imperfections.

“I really don’t like how society gives standards to people,” Matlock said. “When people embrace their individuality and flaws, it makes them more beautiful because they don’t follow like sheep. I don’t want them to look the same, because no person looks the same.”

Matlock wished that her public school system would have encouraged this passion more.

“I feel in public schools, it’s all uniformed,” Matlock said. “A teacher will give you the exact same assignment. They never tell you how it would appear in a career and in life. Because of those reasons, I never took an art class in high school.”

Matlock’s art also features depictions of mental health issues. Pieces of art often include parts of herself and also people she knows.

“I have a mental illness and I’m very open about it because I think the stigma around mental illness needs to be broken down,” Matlock said. “I think the only way the stigma will be broken down is if people become more open about it.”

Matlock also has art which reflects her passion for the environment. One painting she made reflects how critical bees are for the environment. She has others featuring nature, as well.

Matlock may use her art while advocating for changes    within environmental law.

“Art is more interesting to look at than a speech,” Matlock said. “Things are only going to change if we make laws that will make people change. Implementing more environmentally friendly products (and) forcing people to be more environmentally friendly and conscious (would change the earth). Education on that would help a lot.”

In regards to her education, Matlock plans to graduate in the spring.

“(I love) how every student chose to be here. They want to be here,” Matlock said. “The learning environment is a lot better (at Pierce).”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Rebecca Dickson

Activism through art

by Rebecca Dickson time to read: 3 min