Meet a Judge: Saoirse LewisJuly 20, 2020
Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest judges are artists, writers, environmental scientists, historians, marine educators, poets, filmmakers, composers, science communicators, and classroom teachers. Meet Music Judge and Bow Seat alumna Saoirse Lewis through this conversation with our Intern Akhila Bandlora.
What’s your name, and what do you do?
My name is Saoirse Lewis. Right now, I’m a student at Wesleyan University and studying to be an English and Anthropology double major. In my free time, I really love to read. I really like to cook vegan meals. Of course, I love songwriting as well. And I love just hanging outdoors with my family and with my dog & cat.
What is your main artistic medium?
I’ve been songwriting since I was about 11. It’s not really anything that I sit down and do. It’s kind of always been an outlet, like a necessity. It’s how I process my feelings and my emotions. And so when I’m really feeling something, I’ll go and pick up the guitar or play the piano.
That’s awesome. Do you have any favorite artists?
It changes all the time. I tend to get obsessed with one particular artist or song and listen to it on repeat. Sara Barielles was my inspiration when I first started songwriting. I had never intended to do it, and my dad had me in piano lessons when I was growing up but I never really connected to the instrument that much. Then I learned how to play her song “Love Song” on the piano. I became really inspired by her. She’s kind of the reason why I became so in love with songwriting. Right now, I really like Maggie Rogers and Phoebe Bridgers.
What has been bringing you joy creatively or otherwise?
It’s honestly been a little bit difficult to find inspiration for songwriting because there’s a lot of negativity right now. But, I think nature is always very inspiring and seeing the world, especially in these quarantine and COVID times with less people outside and less airplanes, where we can finally hear the birds singing and it’s just more tranquil. It feels like there’s a little bit more harmony between humans and nature, which is really nice.
How did you learn about Bow Seat?
For my senior year marine biology teacher’s class, the final project was to submit to the Bow Seat competition. I think it’s just a very cool organization. I just love the concept and the idea of communicating to the public about issues of climate change through art. I think that’s super important. And there’s often such a disconnect between science and people that are learning it. Having art be that bridge between the two worlds is really important. It’s all interconnected. I don’t think that science is necessarily a super rigid thing. It shouldn’t only be accessible to some people; really, it should be for everyone.
What do you think the role of songwriting and music is in the environmental movement?
Songs are so important for evoking emotion in people and really just being an inspiring force as well. Music acts as a bridge between science and people, and connects people to issues that they wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of.
What work have you done that you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of this organization that I’m involved with at my college. I work for a club called Cardinal Kids. We pair college students up with local schools to teach a class on something that they’re interested in. I feel very proud of that work and to be involved in that because it’s just so cool to be able to provide free after-school classes for students, which is really beneficial for their parents if they’re working. They know their kids are in a safe learning environment. I think there’s also a lot of issues now of kids losing their love of learning. So with our program, we’re trying to re-instill that. We try and show them that learning can be fun through these after-school programs. I’m definitely very proud to be part of that.
That’s so cool. What are examples of classes you’ve taught?
This past semester was cut off short, but we had an eco-crafts class. We made fairy wands out of sticks, for example, which was really cute. It can really be any type of class that a Wesleyan student is passionate about teaching.
That’s so awesome. It’s always nice to hear about like college students getting involved in the communities outside of their college. What’s your favorite local community organization that deserves more attention and money then it gets?
I’m very passionate about animals, so any kind of animal rescue organization! I love Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and Pets Lifeline in Sonoma.
How would your loved ones describe you in three words?
Creative, kind, and thoughtful.