“I like the way I’m growing as a person. I never used to listen to anybody. I never wanted to do what I was supposed to do, but now I understand as you get older, a whole lot of things change. You’ve got to move different.”
– CAW Youth Apprentice Deysean Nesbit
“One thing I learned painting this mural was patience. I had a lot of arguments with my teammates over the summer, but I had to learn to get over it. We used a lot of tools this summer, but two big ones were compassion and teamwork.”
– CAW Youth Apprentice Floyd Thompson
"Most of us took this job in order to make money, but something else came out of it – we also helped our families, we contributed to the Bronx Renaissance. I learned that when a community comes together and we work hard, we can get something done, and the whole community will be improved by it, they will enjoy it, and they will respect it."
– CAW Youth Apprentice Gabriel Bono
Creative Art Works has produced many fine murals in and around Jacob Schiff School Campus which is home to our program partners, Hamilton Grange Middle School and PS 192. CAW murals inside the campus and along 138th Street include Magic with Logic, Dreams of a Creative Revolution, Migrations, and The More You Give the More You Grow. This summer, our Youth Apprentices added a stunning new mural to this impressive collection. Peace of Our Time celebrates the history and cultural diversity of Hamilton Heights and pays homage to the contributions of migrant communities.
This summer, Creative Art Works is offering drop-in classes for children, pre-teens, and teens, at the Children's Center in Lower Manhattan, an ACS short-term housing facility. The temporary nature of residency at Children's Center means that young people can only participate in a handful of classes, and their experience and skills vary greatly. It's a challenging environment, but we have the right people for the job.
This summer, Creative Art Works hired a Shay Epps, a former Youth Apprentice, to work as our Field Correspondent for our summer Public Art Youth Employment program. Shay was our eyes and ears on the ground, visiting all six of our worksites on a regular basis until she became a familiar presence. Shay demonstrated a gift for capturing candid photos and honest interviews. We asked her to reflect on her experiences.
“This art is magnificent.…when our families see this art, they too will be positive instead of negative. They too will be hopeful instead of hopeless. Your art is beautiful. You are bringing beauty to our families. Your art is interesting. When they're waiting for their cases to be called, they now have something to contemplate. Your art is inspiring. Your art is thoughtful. Your art says “Yes!”
- Bronx Family Court Judge Karen Lupuloff
Wow, I loved that film. It speaks to the work that we do… to help girls write and form their own stories around social justice issues. Because, if a girl can tell her story and save her own life, she can save the lives of girls everywhere. And you do that through this film, and all the other films – you make a difference.
It’s the end of July and the middle of our summer Public Art Youth Employment season. Our mural teams are putting paint on walls and canvasses. Our documentary film teams are shooting footage and refining their stories. All of our Youth Apprentices are excited, and maybe a little bit nervous, about their upcoming unveilings and documentary premiers on August 14th and 15th. (We will share more details in future posts and on our social media. Meanwhile, our intrepid Field Correspondent, Shay Epps, is visiting worksites to record interviews and take pictures so we can introduce you to more of our creative and inspiring of our YA’s.
“When I started navigating the New York City school system for one of my own kids, I wanted to make sure that there was art in their school. Creative Art Works matched that goal for me. The more I learn about funding cuts for arts education in public schools, the more I value Creative Art Works as a champion for bringing arts programs to kids in New York City.”
Sculpture is meant to be viewed from all angles. This creates unique challenges for both the artist and the audience. This spring, after-school programs at MS 254 in The Bronx andPS/MS 278 in Manhattan challenged students to expand their definition of what sculpture looks like. The results include abstract sculptures made from nylon stockings, three-dimensional self-portraits, and gigantic household items such as sunglasses, playing cards and headphones.
“Kids at this age can be territorial about art materials. They think in terms of ‘my paper,’ and ‘my paint.’ So, when they are asked to share a single sheet of paper, their instinct is to draw a line down the middle and stick to their side. But when they discover that mixing their colors and joining their lines together can create something unexpected, they warm up to the idea of collaborating.” — Teaching Artist Laura Mychal
Many people have inscribed farewell notes in their classmates’ yearbooks, but how many people can say they left a positive message that will be seen by hundreds of students for years to come? This spring, Creative Art Works is proud to have helped two groups of students not only set their sights on college, but leave beacons of inspiration writ large for others who would follow their lead.
Physical activity is essential to the healthy development of all students, yet 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise, according to the CDC. That’s why Creative Art Works teamed up with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create murals to activate spaces at two schools in Brooklyn as part of the Active Art in Schools initiative. Active Art seeks to promote physical and mental well-being through a series of architectural and urban design strategies that encourage stair climbing, walking, bicycling, transit use, active recreation, and healthy eating.
The management team of the popular burger franchise Shake Shack commissioned Creative Art Works to produce a mural that will wrap around the front and side of their new location on 125th Street in Harlem because they recognize the power of CAW’s Public Art Youth Employment programs to connect stakeholders – including our Youth Apprentices – to their communities.
Oasis, Creative Art Works' new mural at 601 Lexington Avenue, has been an extraordinary experience in many ways. For most of the Youth Apprentices who contributed to the design and execution of this mural, this was their first work experience and, for many of them, it was their first time making art of any sort. Yet they succeeded beautifully. The ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity of these young people is a reflection of, and a testament to, the creative dynamism that makes New York the greatest city in the world. Our Youth Apprentices flourished as individuals and succeeded as a team because of the unique attributes and different perspectives they brought to the table.
On April 29, 2019, Deputy Director Karen Jolicoeur was delighted to represent Creative Art Works at an oversight hearing of the New York City's City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations. The subject at hand was the Cultural After School Adventures (CASA) Initiative, which brings high-quality arts partnerships to New York City public schools, particularly in underserved communities. As Karen makes clear in her brief statement, there are many ancillary benefits to CASA programs.
“Kids at this age are perfectly ready to create stories. Characters spill from their brains. These characters might be the product of an active imagination, or a response to something they read in books or saw on TV, or they may possibly be a way of processing their own personal development.”
— CAW Teaching Artist Ayla Rexroth on student-created cartoon characters in the Cartoon and Anatomy program at Hamilton Grange Middle School.