My Arts Story: Kami Rowan

Guitarist, Professor, and Board Member at The ACGG

As an artist and arts educator, my life is full of connections, collaborations, and community. I’m a classical guitarist who loves teaching and making music with others. I’ve been lucky enough to work as an endowed professor at Guilford College, where I get a chance to create projects like the US Guitar Orchestra and Eastern Music Festival’s guitar program. I serve on non-profit boards such as the Arts Council of Greater Greensboro.

I grew up in a small town in West Virginia. I came to North Carolina to attend UNC School of the Arts for my undergraduate degree, and then studied at Shenandoah Conservatory, receiving a Master’s in Music and eventually my Doctor of Musical Arts degree. I fell in love with North Carolina during my undergrad days, and I have since returned to work at Guilford College, loving my life in Greensboro.

Making music (or any art) with other people is not only an expression of creativity but affects positive change in the world. I believe we are all creative beings and that creativity is part of the definition of what makes us human. Our imagination, inventiveness, and originality spring from the soul and spirit of our nature and are born out of our basic instincts and survival. So, I view the opportunity to live within this context as a gift and have much gratitude for folks who live and love the arts.

If we sing together, we can be a well society. If we play music, draw, or dance together, we can feel something collectively deeper than ourselves. Art asks us to rise above our differences and find a point of spiritual connection that is often unspoken. Since our brains are continuously running, picking up a pencil to sketch or a guitar to strum gives us a break from the mind and invites us into our heart space. The arts offer balance and the opportunity to know ourselves. As a teacher, I recognize the outcomes of self-discipline and focus that I see in my students.

These skills can be applied to so many aspects of life and help develop our senses, passion, and emotional selves. We can experience an entire range of emotions through art. Art heals us and challenges us to be better, and when we gather as a community in the Tanger Center or other local arts spaces, it doesn’t matter who we voted for or what we look like. We can laugh or cry together while suspending daily distractions and have a shared artistic community experience.

I would ask that we consider the music we listen to every day, the art we see in our neighborhoods, the dance or theatre concert we watched in a school, or any other creative process, and how these things made us feel. Feeling is crucial. And emotions felt through art are expressed in a positive context where people can reach across lines and break down walls to walk together.