After "First Death," Artists Find Inspiration for Next Career

Jan 18, 2017

Shumpei Yamaki never thought dance would work out. He assumed hip hop would be a hobby.

"Then I started to go to school in Philadelphia and I was skipping classes to learn to dance," he says.

Realizing where his passion truly lay allowed him to focus more of his time and energy in the art. He felt he was on his way when someone else's choice sent his life spinning in a different direction once again.

"I got hit by a drunk driver, so I had to stop dancing," he says.  "That was one of my questions for the doctor: 'Can I back flip again?'"

The answer, in short, was no. Not like before. So he looked elsewhere. His mom reminded him he used to love clay, so he started playing around with the medium again. Now he's a potter, the resident artist at Scattergood Friends School and Farm, and on the studio art faculty at Grinnell College. He said that throughout the entire process, from the accident to his success in his next field, words from his father kept him afloat.

"It is scary to start something new and change your life," Yamaki says. "But my dad always taught me, whenever you start, it’s never too late and never too early. Whenever you start, that’s the time for you to start."

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Yamaki about the process of  "the first death," when artists must abandon their first career and find a new path. Leslie Nolte, founder and artistic director at the Nolte Academy of Dance, Nate Kaeding, Iowa City Downtown District's retail development coordinator, and Debbie Brooks, pianist for Tap Show Choir and Discovery Choruses in Cedar Rapids, also join the conversation.