On the Job with CAW Youth Apprentice Cyrell Primo

Returning for her second summer at PAL Harlem Center, Cyrell talks about music, art, working together as a team, and the things that words cannot express

This interview was conducted by CAW  Program Coordinator Stefanie Lewin. It has been condensed and edited.

CAW Youth Apprentice Cyrell Primo. This is here second time working on a mural for our Partner PAL Harlem Center. 

CAW Youth Apprentice Cyrell Primo. This is here second time working on a mural for our Partner PAL Harlem Center. 

How did you end up working with Creative Art Works this summer?

I worked last year with CAW. [On the 2016 mural, Muralmorphosis, for PAL Harlem Center.] Last year, my first year here, it was a great year. I felt like if I were to come back I could make it a better year, if I added another one of my messages to another side of this wall.

 

Why do you make art?

I tend to have a creative mind. I’m outspoken, but I feel like some of the things I would like to say can be better addressed with art, with music. The feeling that I get from playing the clarinet is the same feeling I get from using a paintbrush, and they both make me feel good. When I’m holding a paintbrush or when I’m holding a clarinet, anything I’m feeling in my body that I can’t get out with words comes out. So, in every note, or in every brushstroke, I feel like I’m saying a different word.

 

What has it been like to have art-making as a job?

Youth Apprentices at work on CAW's third mural for PAL Harlem Center.

Youth Apprentices at work on CAW's third mural for PAL Harlem Center.

It can be a little hard when you’re working with artists who have totally different backgrounds than you. I think I’m more of a realist when it comes to art –  I like to paint the outside world; so, working with artists who like mosaics or Picassos or stuff like that, it’s hard getting used to. Then once you put your ideas together it becomes a beautiful mural.

How long did it take to figure out how to put everyone’s ideas together, and still make sure everyone’s voices are heard?

About three weeks! [Laughs]. Our final proposal to the client was all of our ideas put together, even though before it was like, "We want this," or "We want that." So we sorted, we found a way to put it all together, so now everyone’s satisfied with what they see.

 
Donovon Jones, Cyrell and Aaron Clifford in front of their portraits

Donovon Jones, Cyrell and Aaron Clifford in front of their portraits

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think art-making might be a part of them?

I’m in the pre-pharmacy program at LIU, so I’ll be a neuropharmacologist when I leave. I think that art was a way of me speaking to my community. my dream is to open up a clinic — that’s my way of giving back to the community. From what I’ve seen growing up, I know a lot of people struggle with health insurance and getting medicine, so keeping everyone healthy is my way of helping the people who helped me.

Share Your #SummerJobStories! Tell us about something you learned on a summer job and, if possible, include a photo of yourself from the time of your story!

 

Watch the video!

Our own Saucy Productions created a five-minute mini documentary about the making of the mural "Ascension" for Pal Harlem Center. Click on the button below to watch it.