From now until the end of the school year, we will be introducing and celebrating our graduating students, looking back on the work they've done during their time here, and sharing their reflections and wisdom as they head off into the professional world. Today, we meet graduating MFA lighting designer Amber Parker! You can see some of Amber's work from her time here at UW in the slideshow above.
What do you know now that you didn’t know when you started this program?
There’s that quote, you know, "perfection is the enemy of greatness"? And that’s been a struggle for me personally, being a major perfectionist. Aiming for perfectionism can be completely debilitating because you’ll never achieve it; it can be paralyzing because it doesn’t allow you to explore and make mistakes. And those mistakes are actually like doors that open entirely new possibilities and paths that you never would have thought to go down. Some of my favorite projects have actually sprung out from those, as Bob Ross calls them, “happy little accidents.” So, that's one of the biggest lessons I've learned.
What are you looking forward to being able to do now that you won’t be in class or studio or rehearsal 12 hours a day?
I am really looking forward to working on the whole work/life balance act. It has been heavily heavily swayed in one direction, and it’s time to rebalance those scales. I’m also looking forward to having hobbies again. I have a scarf that I haven’t finished knitting in three years. I haven’t been hiking or backpacking more than a couple times. I think I read maybe four books for fun in the last three years. So, yeah, reading, hiking, knitting–being active again.
Any plans for after graduation?
Well, I am going to go hide in the woods for a few weeks–I’ll be taking a trip back to the east coast and spending a few weeks on the Appalachian trail. Really looking forward to that. I will take a few weeks to visit family and decompress, and then it’s right back to the grind. I’ll be coming back to Seattle, working here this summer with Theatre Battery for the third year running.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?
I don’t know that I have a single favorite memory. I think that some of the most meaningful moments were actually those late night conversations from one designer to another, just across the desk, in a moment where we just needed a break, or needed another eye, or just needed the personal connection. Those little moments in time I think have really formed some important relationships.
What advice do you have to people who might follow in your footsteps?
Oh, I definitely have an answer for this, because I really needed to learn this one: Your body works so hard to keep you alive and breathing and healthy and moving, every day, tirelessly. You really need to return the favor. Rest. Eat fresh foods that come from plants. Sleep occasionally. Take time for your mind to relax, too. That balance is the only way to keep yourself moving forward through three years of incredibly hard work. One of the tactics that has worked best for me is to create small rituals throughout the day, so I’m only taking five minutes here to make my tea and sit with it, or five minutes there to step away from work and sit outside and eat. I had to learn that one the hard way, I crashed pretty hard a couple times.
To learn more about Amber and her work, visit amberlights.net