By Staff, November 2017 Issue. Meet the rest of the Class of 2017 here.

"You have to look at things from the inside out to capture the essence of something,” is the vision posted on the Dawn Bowman Design website, a pearl of wisdom that the artist has (maybe even unknowingly) has applied to so many areas of her life, not only design.

As a Phoenix native, Dawn Bowman has  always been drawn to the arts – from theater and painting to music and design – but it wasn’t until about 17 years ago that she began looking at the LGBTQ community from the inside out to capture its essence through volunteerism.

“It was here I felt I could make a difference and manage up-and-coming artists, musicians and people in need,” she said. “That is what felt like community to me.”

Throughout the years, Bowman has volunteered her time to such causes as Aunt Rita’s Foundation, American Red Cross, the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS and Central Arizona Shelter Services.

She might be best known, however, for her 17 years as a Phoenix Pride volunteer. From behind the scenes, she’s witnessed the Bistro Stage entertainment evolve from a 10-foot-by-10-foot platform stage into an 80-foot tented art and music venue over the past six years.

“I love supporting starting artists and musicians and giving them a platform to shine,” she said. “And the community art projects have been a great expression for the community ... I try to think of creative art projects that have meaning, like the Door to Equality Competition and 'Recycle Pride' water bottle sculpture, to name a couple.”

As the winner of the National Endowment for Advancement in the Arts Promising Young Artist and recipient of Regent Art Scholarship from the University of Arizona, Bowman understands the importance of giving others the space and the resources to create.

“Art is expression, and art speaks loudly without words,” she said. “It is a voice. Especially for the youth to be heard and to participate in a free expressive way. To be out and create, or out and receive the message of arts expression – community art is truly the most expressive – [means] leaving your mark. It’s saying, yes, I’m here now!”

It was her commitment to community art that drew her to participate in the Juried Great Mural Competition in Tucson Arizona in 2011.

“I like being involved in these causes because I feel strongly that it is so important to give to the community,” she said. “Give of yourself, your time and your talents. The reward is seeing the joy and happiness – and sometimes gratitude – in people’s eyes.”

Since 2010, Bowman has been involved with the Desperado LGBT Film Festival, which takes place each February at Paradise Valley Community College.

While she initially became involved as an entertainer for the opening reception, Bowman was later asked to bring art and entertainment to the growing event and, over the years, this has involved coordinating music lineups, art booths, meet-and-greet receptions even assisting art gallery exhibitors with installation. In short, all the things she loves.

“I don’t have kids, but all of these projects are like my kids, and kids need nurturing, love and attention to become great adults and great human being,” she said. “To teach others what I know so they carry on in their lives with a little piece of that, that is my legacy!”

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