You might see Colorado State University student Kent Washington helping out various departments around the University, from programming functions at Ram Events and setting up performance lights at the University Center of the Arts to directing the United Men of Color student organization with volunteer services and inclusive-based programs.
What you may not see is Washington’s effort in trying to get Colorado on the map as the next major artist hotspot.
“We are probably the most progressive artistic state in the country right now, but no one knows it yet,” Washington said. “We have talented musicians, visual artists, dancers, videographers, but it needs a platform.”
Washington comes from Colorado Springs and is currently pursuing his fourth year as theatre student concentrating in lighting design with a minor in ethnic studies. He plans to use his education to further the Fort Collins community’s artistic endeavors.
“There is not a reason why Denver or Colorado as a whole for that matter cannot compete with Los Angeles, New York or Atlanta,” Washington said. “That is why I am involved at CSU and Fort Collins.”
Washington is trying to achieve this platform by teaching his friends and coworkers that there is a lot of intersectional qualities about the creative industry.
“Ultimately, all these things I am doing on campus provide experience,” Washington said. “The more experience you gain, the better you are and the better you are prepared to enter the world.”
Washington’s motto is to maximize potential.
“The more people you know, the bigger your network is and the more opportunities are going to come,” Washington said. “That is not just limited to music. That is life in general.”
Outside of school, Washington owns an independent hip-hop collective that is based out of Colorado Springs called NoCo’s Company. Washington is promoting other independent artists as well as chasing his own dreams of becoming a creative artist.
“Collaboration is going to be the number one thing to make this happen,” Washington said. “We all have great ideas, yet some people may be selfish or perhaps too afraid, and that does not create unity.”
Some of Washington’s inspirations in music are Kayne West, Kid Cudi, Ice Cube, and Tupac Shakur. When it comes to theatre, Washington said he does not have a specific play but indulges in all of it.
“Shakespeare of course, but I feel like that is cliché,” Washington said. “Shakespeare is what Tupac Shakur was at that time; pushing boundaries, pushing limits and going against the societal norm, and I am all about pushing boundaries too.”
Being the President of the United Men of Color student organization, Washington promotes activism to African American males here at CSU, and this has influenced Washington’s artistic pursuit.
One of Washington’s songs, called “Belonging,” touches on race relations in America. Washington talks about how systems are created and how people are then divided and conquered.
“Why can’t all identities come together,” said Washington. “Because it’s been programmed in us to be separate in America.”
In the future, Washington wants to keep pushing boundaries and keep disrupting these systems.
“Even with gender, blue means boy and pink means girl,” Washington said. “How can we break these structures? That is what my music is about. How can we as a people disrupt that?”
Washington goes into depth about our unique position in this country.
“We have amazing talent, amazing local businesses,” Washington said. “I am all for that local entrepreneurship push, whether it is businesses or art.”
Washington said that travelling to Los Angeles is not so different than going to Denver.
“Of course, it is not Hollywood, but there is creative people that do the same thing,” Washington said. “People have to understand that Colorado has more similarities than differences to Los Angeles or New York City.”
Washington is motivated about the future of Colorado’s art scene.
“My goal is to keep enhancing the Colorado culture and the Colorado experience,” Washington said. “We’re NoCo’s, we don’t have no coast, and that is what makes us unique.”
When presented with the request of performing a freestyle rap, Washington said, “It probably would not be clean. Art is not polite, and I live by that.”