Meet our new intern, Brennan O’Rourke!

October 2, 2014

AFA: Give us an introduction of yourself. Brennan

I am currently an undergraduate student at NYU Gallatin. I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I have been involved in the arts for almost fifteen years. I love strawberries, paella, and pasta! My favorite color is blue. I speak two languages: Spanish and English. My favorite activities include, but are not limited to: reading in Washington Square Park, performing, watching Netflix when I can find the time, and painting with acrylics.

AFA: What are three words that best describe you?

Enthusiastic, motivated, and activist


I found the mission of fostering creativity, teamwork, confidence, self-expression, and resilience to be something that is extremely important. The arts are a stepping stone for the enrichment of our youth. I know that from personal experience the arts were a truly eye-opening and critical component to my development as a human being. I also have a keen interest for supporting the underprivileged.

It is these passions that drew me to becoming involved with AFA. They uniquely serve the needs of many children who may not have had exposure to the arts.

AFA: As you stated earlier you are currently an undergraduate student at NYU? What are you studying?

Currently the plan is to study molecular biology and theatre. I know, I know, completely different! But my wish is to somehow connect these topics. In molecular biology, I am specifically interested in protein structure. Each function that the body carries out is the product of a specific protein in the body.I want to see what genetic mutations in DNA lead to a proclivity to certain mental illnesses and what the effect of these mutations has on protein structure.

On the theatre side of my interests, I am extremely passionate about acting and storytelling. It is one of the most powerful messages that a human being can possess. And that is why I think theatre would be an excellent form of therapy. I am specifically hoping to utilize theatre as a form of therapy for the mentally ill to promote confidence and resilience. These are especially important skills for people who have mental illnesses because every day they face some sort of discrimination due to social stigmas. I want to help change people’s way of thinking.


AFA: What’s your favorite piece of art? Be it theatre, a painting, a song…and why?

This is such a difficult question for me. Since I was three, I have been immersed in the arts. But two major pieces stand on in my mind. The first is Marc Chagall’s I and the Village. I have been fascinated by his work from the moment I came across his self-portrait in an art textbook in the seventh grade. After being tasked with creating a self-portrait based upon another artist’s creation, I was immediately drawn to Chagall’s use of color and space. He divided the image up into four subsections, which represented a vital part of his life. I loved how I could incorporate the subtleties of my life into a self-portrait like Chagall. Anyway what I love most about this painting is his authentic portrayal of Russian culture at the time. It’s simply superb.

My other favorite piece of art is a musical called Next to Normal. The musical deals with a family’s ability to cope with the circumstances and effects of mental illness. A close family member of mine suffers from schizophrenia. When I saw this musical, I immediately had a connection to the piece. So much of what happens throughout the musical mimicked moments in my entire life. The anguish and fear of the family resonated with me. I knew what it was like. Next to Normal is an extremely important piece of art that highlights the inequalities and injustices within the mental health system. One of the reasons I joined the AFA team was that I wanted to serve the underrepresented people of the world: to speak for those who cannot. Next to Normal achieves that message.

ChagallI and the Village, Marc Chagall

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