Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2020 : Aisha L. Flores
Where do you work and what do you do?
In my day job, I am a Software Engineer and work with a team of developers that developed, maintain and update an application that is used by US hospitals to track hospital-associated infections. My background is in Electronics Engineering. I also come from a family of artists and educators. My passion is to use my knowledge and experience in technology and my love for the arts in a way that helps the community. I founded Buttercup STEAM in 2017 to teach young girls to explore their interests and to encounter challenges creatively. We fuse technology and art in a way that makes it a fun and memorable learning experience.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have always loved the arts since I can remember. Also, my father, sister, brother, husband, and my children are artists. My mother was a data engineer and she loved the arts. She would take us to see plays, live musicals and exposed us to many aspects of the arts. She was also an art collector. Having so many people in my family involved in the arts and having the opportunity to experience performance and visual arts has groomed me to become the person I am today.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be a lawyer because one of my aunts told me that I could be rich if I did. I also remember sneaking into my mother’s room to read her technical books. She was studying to become a technician and to get a better job. I didn’t know it back then. I just thought those books were so cool and I wanted to understand what they were about. I always thought that we would learn about the things I saw in my mother’s books in school eventually, but that day never came. After many years in the technology industry, I decided that I could have fun with electronics and give back to the community by creating Buttercup STEAM. This was my chance to create a safe space for girls to learn and explore technology in a way that I did not when I was young.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Probably Shirley Chisholm. I would just want to listen to her tell me stories about her life and how she overcame challenges throughout her career.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother was the biggest influence in my life. She was a strong woman. She had a drive to better herself and to give us (my sister and brother) opportunities to see the world in different ways. She always had us involved in some club, group or activity. She also tried to keep us involved in things that aligned with our interests. My sister was athletic, so she made sure my sister was able to be involved in sports. My brother was artistic, so he was always going to arts programs, schools, etc. I had many interests, but mostly academic, so she helped me pursue my academic endeavors. She always helped family and community. She was an avid volunteer, always volunteering for something or helping people. She passed away from colon cancer in 2011. I miss her.
How is art a passion for you?
My passion for art comes from my family. I have been surrounded by artists and art all of my life. Watching my siblings, husband and children grow as artists, I have become more educated in the struggles of making a living from your art, which has made me an arts advocate as well. My husband, Daniel Flores and I founded Art Is King to aid in this struggle that artists have in finding a path to where they can thrive. We continue our community involvement and engagement through our various programs.
Buttercup STEAM is STEM with the A for Arts. We incorporate the arts into our program for girls because I truly believe you cannot be smart without art. Creativity is a part of who we are as people and it is necessary to bring forth innovation that changes our lives. Grooming this creativity in a technology-driven time is necessary to help prepare our youth for the future.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
It is well known that women are underrepresented in many industries, including the arts. There are always renowned outliers but in general, women are not the main decision-makers when it comes to gallery representation, creative jobs or grant dollars that goes to arts organizations or projects. My thoughts are that representation and inclusion are necessary to bring forth equality.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I love the community of artists in Atlanta. I do feel as though we have an arts family here in Atlanta. I am proud to be a part of the arts community and to be able to contribute and do our part to help others thrive. I am excited about the uptick in art projects available to individual local artists and the opportunities that also financially support local artists.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to continue our work through Art Is King to be a conduit for connections to resources and opportunities to help artists thrive. I also hope that through Buttercup STEAM to give back to my local community in a way that focuses on empowerment and creative expression utilizing technology.
Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?