They include future nurses, scientists, social workers, teachers, entrepreneurs, accountants, and artists. They range in age from 16 to 24. They reflect the beautiful tapestry of New York City. Most are still in high school, a few have started college. They have diverse interests that include poetry, politics, sports, comic books, literature, movies, fashion and travel. One thing they all have in common is that they are inspired to do something meaningful for their community – that, in turn, inspires us.
This summer, Creative Art Works Youth Apprentices will be working at six locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx. We are moved by the words and actions of these young people, so we’re going to try to bottle that experience, the way you might catch a firefly in a Mason jar. Between now and the middle of August, we will be posting "lightning interviews" with our Youth Apprentices on our social media channels. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interviews, as well as other news about this summer's Public Art Youth Employment programs.
"I just want to create something that’s meaningful."
Britney will be attending University of Albany in the fall and plans to pursue a degree in political science with an eye on working in nonprofits or corporate responsibility. Britney is working this summer with the team that will be painting murals for our educational partners Hamilton Grange Middle School and PS 192; as well as our community partners, Jacob Schiff Neighborhood Association, Audubon Mural Project, and NYC Parks.
Do you have any past experience with art?
I do theater arts, but I haven’t really explored visual arts, so I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. So far, it’s been informative. Even today we learned a lot about shading and lining and negative versus positive space.
You have a two-hour commute from Canarsie to Harlem. What do you plan to do with all that time?
I have a lot of books on my summer reading list I want to get through.
"I care about people. I care about my peers, my community, the elderly. I want to do things that help people in my life. That’s really important to me."
Illea Reed is from the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx. She will be going to New York College in Queens to study Clinical Laboratory Science in the fall. She is working with a team of Youth Apprentices that will be painting CAW’s second mural for the PAL New South Bronx Center.
What do you think of the people you’re working with?
They’re all unique. I feel like we are going to do something special!
What do you want this mural to represent?
I want it reflect well on the community, because there are a lot of good people here. A lot of people have a bad impression of [The South Bronx] based on things that they have heard, not on what they have seen with their own eyes. I want to change that, because this is my community.
Where would you take a person who’s never been here for a positive Bronx experience?
I would go to the Botanical Gardens, because it’s my favorite place.
"You have to get a little bit better day by day."
Aisha Konate, is a rising high school junior. She will be working with the Jacob Schiff School Campus and Playground Mural Team this summer. This is her first year with a Creative Art Works Public Art Youth Employment program.
What do you want to be in the future?
I want to be a fashion designer. I want to make my own clothing line.
How do you think this program will help you with your career ambition?
I need to learn how to draw my ideas for clothing designs – like fast sketching.
"You must have a lot of faith in us."
Stokely Scarlett, is a rising high school senior. He will be working with the Jacob Schiff School Campus and Playground Mural Team. As a freshman, he won a Scholastic Art Award and his work was displayed at The Met. While this is not his first summer job, it is his first time working with Creative Art Works.
What do you hope to get out of this job?
I hope to learn how to interact with new people and see how I work on a team, because I’m going to be a senior, and it seems like that’s going to be helpful for a lot of the things I want to do next year.
How do you feel about your work experience so far?
I think it's so nice to let inexperienced kids work on a mural and get paid for it. You must have a lot of faith in us.
"...understand that there's hope. And that nothing can exist without us all working together."
Shataysha Byrd will be working on a team that will be painting five large canvasses for Bronx Family Court. This team’s work will be displayed in the main entry foyer, where it will be flanked by a tapestry by Roy Lichtenstein and a mosaic by Charles Henry Alston. A Bronx native, Shataysha is working on a bachelors degree in Human Service Management at Albert State College. She is a poet who regularly performs at the Nuyorican Poets Café.
What attracted you to working with Creative Art Works?
I'm intrigued by the chance to make a difference and I think that the ability to express yourself through art is something that's really unique to people.
What do you hope to get out of this experience?
I feel like I've already made a family, which is pretty cool. Honestly, these are probably some of the coolest, friendliest people I've ever met in my life.
What message do you want people to feel when they see your team’s art in Family Court?
To understand that there's hope. And that nothing can exist without us all working together. I’m big on unity.
"I never did anything like this before. And it would be a big deal, not just for me, but for the community, too."
Evelyn Wroten will be working with the CAW team that is creating a mural for the PAL New South Bronx Center on Longwood Avenue. Evelyn is a 19-year-old Bronx resident. She plans to pursue a career in nursing after she finishes her GED, and would like to work as a school nurse.
What made you decide to work with Creative Art Works this summer?
I like hands-on stuff. It makes me feel like I'm interacting with the world and learning new things.
What do you think the mural should say to the people of the Bronx?
That we're here with you, and we understand, and that we're going to make this community a better place. Folks in the Bronx deserve some recognition.
What do you think you're going to get out of this experience?
I hope this will be a new experience for me and my family, too. Because they've never seen me do something that I really enjoyed and finish it. If I can finish this, maybe it won’t be so surprising when I finish high school.
What would be one word that you would use to describe your neighborhood?