When words don’t work, paint does
— Camilia Almanzar, summer Youth Apprentice, George Washington High School

Art is such an immediate way of communicating, because it bypasses language and gets to the essence of an idea. During the second week of the CAW Summer Public Art Youth Employment Program, our Youth Apprentices explored the power of symbols to tell a complex story. Youth Apprentices participated in a number of exercises designed to build skills and increase their understanding of basic concepts of visual communication.

One such skill-building exercise is to create a self-portrait that contains symbols that express the artist's values, beliefs, and personality. This exercise prepares students to participate in the design process of the final mural. Just as each self-portrait expresses something unique about the individual who created it, the finished mural will express something unique about the culture, values and history of the surrounding community.  Mikal Richards, a Youth Apprentice with the Multimedia Team, captured this process in the video below.

Josh Perez, one of the Youth Apprentices working on the mural for Renaissance School of the Arts in Harlem, creates his self-portrat.


Jazz has been called "Harlem's Gift to the World" and the Jazz Age was one of the most colorful periods in the storied history of this dynamic community. Creative Art Work Teaching Artist Gera Lozano and Teaching Artist Assistant Becky Hutt are working with CAW Youth Apprentices to design a mural about the Jazz Age for the PAL Harlem Center. Building on the skills they learned from exercises such as self-portraits, our young artists produced their own design sketches on the theme of the Harlem during the Jazz Age. Motifs include jazz instruments, famous performers, the logo of the iconic Cotton Club, and art deco designs.

Above - Variations on a Theme: Like jazz musicians taking a solo during a song, CAW Youth Apprentices explore their own take on the theme of Jazz in Harlem. 

Above - a CAW Youth Apprentice sketches from photo reference of flappers. 

Things are starting to heat up! Come back next week for more stories about the our Summer Public Art Youth Employment Program.