Alumni Archives - Page 4 of 8 - Cornish Alumni
Alum Highlight: Alex Martin
Category: Alumni Author: Pat Bako Date: 2 years ago Comments: 0

Alum Highlight – Alex Martin, Dance ‘96

We’re honored to highlight our alum Alex Martin, Owner of Synchronicity Events. Alex graduated from Cornish in 1996 and has helped shape the Seattle arts community ever since! Read on to learn more about Alex, her passions, and her events business. 

The following is an interview with Alex Martin, Dance 1996 (she/her). Owner Synchronicity Events

Describe growing up and your childhood.

My parents went back to the land in the mid-70s, and I spent my baby years on their remote property in the highlands above Tonasket, Washington … and then the bulk of my childhood and teen years in Okanogan, Washington. It’s a small town with an interesting and diverse mashup of hippies, ranchers, orchardists, native folks (the Colville reservation is just across the river), and Latinx families who originally arrived to work in agriculture but are now a huge part of the community. I spent a lot of time at the swimming pool, at the local dance studio (ballet, tap and jazz!) then later in the art room at high school, in rehearsal with the community musical theater productions and the community orchestra (I played violin) and browsing for long afternoons at the thrift store. In high school I was the art geek, the music nerd, the dance diva all rolled into one!

Tell us about why you decided to pursue art and why Cornish? 

On a trip to Seattle when I was 14, my family was driving through Capitol Hill and we passed the original Cornish building on Roy Street … and my parents said “Oh, honey, look there’s Cornish. It’s a college where they teach art!” I was floored, because I had no idea going to college to study art was even an option. In my mind I was like “OK … IT’S FINAL. THAT’S THE COLLEGE FOR ME”. I never wavered. Many tense discussions with my folks later, I prevailed and enrolled in the Dance department in 1993. I thought it was heaven.

What was your most important takeaway from Cornish?

My fellow students and I worked so hard and through pure force of will and the coaching of our professors, we reinvented our bodies, we re-programmed our nervous systems with whole new patterns of moving, we built new sensitivities to balance, touch, rhythm, new methods for invention and composition. But the thing that sticks with me the most is the incredible skills I gained in collaboration and facilitation. I feel confident I can walk into any room and meet new people, and if we all want something to happen, we can definitely make something happen TOGETHER! That carries across all the things I’ve done, not only artistic endeavors.

What is your current career and how did your art lead you there?

For about a decade after graduating I was actively performing, choreographing, and producing dance. I was co-director of BetterBiscuitDance and one of the co-founders of Open Flight Studio in Seattle. And during that time, to cover expenses I made some money as a costume designer, and I also started a side-hustle taking contract work to help nonprofits with their benefit auctions and events. Events have been my main money-making gig for about 20 years now! I launched a new business, Synchronicity Events, 3 years ago with a strong vision to help local non-profit orgs hold their Best Event Ever. Currently, I have 8 employees and we’re producing roughly 75 events each year (most of our events have been virtual and via livestream since March 2020, of course).

When I’m envisioning an event, I feel a super-strong connection to my training in choreography I’m in charge of planning how people will move through a space and through a defined block of time. What’s the rhythm, what’s the composition, what do we encounter first and second and third, what’s the narrative, what are we learning as we go, what do we want to occur? So I think I take quite a different angle on experience design than event planners who come from a visual-design background. My events are built in all dimensions, and in time, and with an emotional arc.

Tell us your vision for the future of our arts world.

This has been such a brutal time for performing artists and audiences! I am watching closely to see how our local arts presenters are tip-toeing in to the fall 2021 season and navigating public safety while trying to fill their auditoriums, and it makes me eager to see how site-specific work and less “traditional” ways to deliver the work to audiences may rise to more prominence. I put the quotes around “traditional” because let’s get real, people always danced outdoors and danced everywhere and danced WITH each other, and they always will … dancing indoors on stages (for an audience sitting still) only dates to the French court of Louis XIV, and who really needs that anymore?

Our world is in a massive shift due to climate destabilization, and as our global societies live through the coming decades, I know artists can make work that provides a balm and a point of reflection and renewal. I also think artists can provide road maps to help people build new identities, courage, resilience. I hope artists can forge even more powerful visions, and more innovative ways to bring the work to audiences, and more thoughtful partnerships, and more flexible communities who are not banking on any type of “normal” to succeed. I think that artists who are more enthralled with facilitating a collective expression and empowering a community (rather than making an individual statement) may rise in the future. We shall see!

What else would you like us to know?

My employees like to rib me for having “A Degree In Dance” … and I love it! I’ve been consistently grateful for the education I received at Cornish. I believe there’s more insight, more ability to analyze and strategize, more sensitivity, more business skills, and more people skills packed into my education than if I had spent my college years doing anything else.\

Virtual Career Day
Category: Alumni Author: Pat Bako Date: 2 years ago Comments: 0

This past spring of 2021 we held our first-ever Virtual Career Day, a virtual event geared exclusively towards Cornish alumni and 4th-year students, with the goal of career enhancement and networking. Over 40 participants engaged with a variety of local and national professionals in the arts and related fields. 

Michelle Bufano, Executive Director of Chihuly Garden and Glass and owner of Gallery Mack kicked off the event with the keynote address focusing on the future of arts in a post-pandemic world. She then moderated a panel discussion on finding your footing in a creative career with alums Christopher Peak, Theater, Celine Besson, Design.

The program managers of Artist Trust presented an informative and lively workshop on best practices marketing your art career, with tangible do’s and don’ts, and alum Dylan Hayes shared a little bit about his music career then entertained the group with a piano performance through the lunch break.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the day was meeting the many professionals who joined us, then having dedicated networking time with them. There were even some informal job offers right on the spot!

We plan to host the second Virtual Career Day in the spring of 2022 and we invite you to join us!

Keep your eye on your email for an invite coming in early 2022. We extend a big thank you to all of our panelists, presenters, and participants in our first Virtual Career Day. 

Input or questions? Reach out to

CORNISH+ Featuring alum Silas Berlin
Category: Alumni Author: Pat Bako Date: 2 years ago Comments: 0

CORNISH+ featuring participant alum Silas Berlin

CORNISH+ is a new program offering one year of tuition-free study following graduation inviting students who were enrolled full-time during the 2020-2021 academic year, as well as members of the Class of 2020, to extend their studies for a full year beyond the date of their graduation, at no additional cost. The goal is to further opportunities for our recent alumnus and celebrate their tenacity and wherewithal during these uncertain times. 

We caught up with Music alum, Silas Berlin, who is participating in CORNISH+ this year. We send a big thank you to Silas for sharing his Cornish experience with this alumni community. 

Interview with Silas:

Where did you grow up and what was that like? 

I grew up on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The island community is so strong, filled with artisans of all sorts, musicians, carpenters and farmers. But Martha’s Vineyard is only known for its summer months, where tourists from all fancy walks of life flock to the beaches. The island has a huge (though quietly known only to the locals) art scene. There is music nightly and art festivals weekly. But there is no college or university or trade school on the island, so those who pursue higher education must go elsewhere. It is hard, and from my perspective impossible, to get a career in the arts started on Martha’s Vineyard. As a classical pianist, the city is where I need to be.

What made you decide to pursue music? 

My father is a jazz and blues pianist and my mother is a painter, sculptor and fine cook. There was always a creative spirit in my house as a child. I began piano at the age of six, and music became an important part of my life in high school. It was not until freshman year of college that I really discovered classical music. 

Why did you decide to come to Cornish? 

While visiting non-music schools with quality jazz programs here in the PMW, my father and I stumbled upon Cornish while meandering these impossible streets by car. We walked in, chatted to a very nice admin person and I decided to apply. 

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Cornish? I learned that it is completely up to me to form the early course of my artistic development and career. Cornish offered a wonderful environment to aid in the process. The faculty and student resource department are seemingly at the ready to answer questions and be of assistance. I learned the importance and the fruitfulness of asking. 

You stayed for the new Cornish+ Program – what has that been like? It has been great. The program has been accommodating to my freshly graduated, busy life. It has been a pleasure to keep the muscles moving. And of course you can’t beat access to Kerry Hall! 

I find that I am thinking about the courses differently and more broadly. I like taking the courses better now than I did while “in school.” I think a little break from the throngs of academic tradition as we 23 year olds have known it for most of our lives has allowed me to enjoy and appreciate learning in the school environment just that little bit more. 

How has Cornish impacted your life? 

Cornish has also helped me get a foot in the Seattle door, and that has been so great. Right now I am teaching piano privately. I would like to continue in the vein of private teaching. I hope to teach piano at the college level. Something I plan to become more immersed in and comfortable with is the lecture-recital. To watch a performance is one thing, but in conjunction with some history of the music, watching a performance can be incredibly illuminating and inspiring. I’ve seen some lecture recitals that have made the experience so much more precious, intimate, and of course educating. Teaching and performing. That’s the dream.

Message from President Tymas-Jones
Category: Alumni Author: Aly Bedford Date: 2 years ago Comments: 0

Dear Cornish Community,

Less than a year ago, I wrote to you to share my pain and bewilderment regarding the never-ending hatred and consequential atrocities, and injustices African-Americans have endured in this country.  The immediate reactions of the masses of the national and international communities to the murder of George Floyd generated for me a feeling of hope that humanity was now courageous enough to stop being tolerant of the thriving history of hatred against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).  Nevertheless, today I am saddened that similar atrocities are continuing.  There has been an increase of more than 143% in violent hate crimes since 2020, especially against the elderly, and in the wake of the rise since the beginning of the pandemic.   Only five days ago, eight Americans, six of whom were Asian-Americans, fell victim to the ongoing threat of the results of racism and xenophobia.  Although the authorities have not charged the perpetrator’s action as hate crimes, it is complicated, if not impossible, to deny that race was not a significant factor.   The work of anti-racism continues!!!

As an institution that appreciates and values humanity, it is more important than ever that we as artists and creatives be fully engaged in the struggle against bigotry and hatred in any form. Cornish College of the Arts must do the work of dismantling the patterns of racism, xenophobia, classism, sexism, and all other “isms” that lead primarily to a disregard and dis-valuation of humanity.  Everyone in the Cornish community must feel safe and that their dignity is esteemed.  The sense of belonging and respect is the responsibility of every citizen of the Cornish community.  I expect every one of this community to interrupt instances of racism and intolerance and report such behaviors to authorities.  I encourage each student, faculty, and staff member to embrace our core values of inclusion and respect.  We are a strong community, and by working together with empathy, humanity, and support for each other, we can realize a more robust and more welcoming Cornish.  I am relying on all of us to do our part to make the world we live in a better place.  

Warmest regards,

Raymond Tymas-Jones, Ph.D.  

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