Lightning Strikes Twice

Blocking in color at PAL New South Bronx

Blocking in color at PAL New South Bronx

Our first set of "lightning interviews" were recorded on only the second day of this summer's Public Art Youth Employment program, when our Youth Apprentices were just starting to get a handle on their job responsibilities. We're now past the halfway point, so our young painters and videographers have some experience under their belts. They know their jobs. They know their projects have tight, non-negotiable, deadlines. They know that there are high expectations.

And they are rising to the occasion. 

In our latest blog post, we asked several of our Youth Apprentices and one of our valued clients questions about inspiration, aspirations and anticipation. One theme that came up repeatedly is that everybody is looking forward to their unveiling or premiere. Our Youth Apprentices are excited about their work, and they can't wait to show it to friends, family, their community, and you

This summer, Creative Art Works Youth Apprentices are working at six locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx. Please follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more interviews, as well as other news about this summer's Public Art Youth Employment programs

Multimedia Team Apprentices conduct an interview

Multimedia Team Apprentices conduct an interview




RBC Painters at Brookfield Place


Creative Art Works has returned to Brookfield Place to paint four large canvasses for our supporter RBC. This summer, the crew is working in a very public setting – the north balcony of the Winter Garden at 230 Vesey Street.

Stop by the second floor overlooking the Winter Garden atrium to see this team at work. They will be painting from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Thursday until August 7th. Join us for the official unveiling at 1:30 PM on August 8th

Kimani REddick

Kimani is inspired by a wide range of music, from Marilyn Manson to acoustic guitar. While he has been painting for some time, this is his first job with CAW. 

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"Everything you do in art should be a long question, and it’s up to other people to perceive their own answer."

What’s the hardest part about this job?
A friend asked me, “Would you rather work hard all summer or would you rather have fun and paint?” And I said, “I think painting sounds hard!” But my grandfather was a really great artist, and he always wanted me to work on my art, so I signed up. I feel like if I put my time into it, it will become easier.

What makes you nervous about this job?
I’m nervous because going into things when you don’t know what to expect is always a little nerve-wracking, but I’m faking it with confidence!

What excites you about this job?
The exciting part is going to be the unveiling of the art. That and the party afterwards. I’m going to make sure we throw down a dance challenge, and I’m going to convince everybody else to do it, because I’m a schemer. It’s called the “shoe challenge!” It will be fun for everybody.

What’s your secret identity?
You mean the person behind my superhero persona? I guess a really, really, really, really nice kid who just wants to be kind to everyone.

Koko Kabash

Koko is 16. This is his first summer job ever. He was born in Senegal but moved to the US when he was six. He enjoys running along the FDR Drive. He plans to pursue computer programming when he graduates from high school.


"This job has exceeded my expectations."

How did you find out about CAW?
My parents said I should get a summer job. I applied at Barnes & Noble, but they said I was too young, so I went to [an SYEP information meeting] and I thought this was the most interesting job.

How is your first summer job going?
So far, it’s exceeded my expectations. I thought they were going to tell us what to paint and then assign us a section and we’d just do it. But it’s been more collaborative. We’ve had disagreements about what to paint, but we always manage to come to a consensus.

What was it like visiting Senegal?
It was like visiting a foreign country. I was too young to remember Senegal when I left.

If you could visit anywhere on earth, where would you go?
Japan. I’ve wanted to climb Mount Fuji ever since I first saw a photo of it.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Super strength. It seems like a useful ability. Actually, no! Super speed, because I’m late to literally everything, and it would be nice to always be on time for a change.

Julian Vasquez

Julian previously worked for Read Alliance, tutoring early readers in underserved neighborhoods. This is his first job with CAW. He plans to become a carpenter and build houses.


"I like leaving marks."

How is painting different from carpentry?
Painting is more delicate than carpentry. I’m learning to be gentler.

What attracted you to this job?
I get to work on something that will be seen for a while – I like leaving marks.

What are some of the other ways you leave marks?
Every time I make a piece of furniture, I put my name on it. I’ve made wooden spoons, cutting boards, little stools, a jewelry box… I go to school for carpentry.

What’s been the best part of working on this project?
I enjoy the dynamic of my group. And I’m looking forward to the unveiling. I’ve given everybody in my family [invitations] and I’m expecting a lot of them to show up. I believe my parents will love the paintings. They appreciate art and they fully support me.

The Blue Jays Multimedia Crew

Blue Birds WEB.jpg

The Multimedia Team is divided into five productions teams, each working on a different short video. The following interviews all come from the Blue Jays, who are writing, shooting and editing a short documentary about The Audubon Mural Projecta collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Gitler &_____ Gallery to create murals of climate-threatened birds around Washington Heights, where John James Audubon spent the last years of his life. The project’s goal is to commission artists to paint murals of 314 species of birds listed in the Audubon Society’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Report, which reports that at least half of all North American birds are threatened by a warming climate.

Join us for the world premiere of this and four other short documentaries on August 9th at 6:00 PM in the auditorium of A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in West Harlem. And stick around for the Grand Culminating Event afterwards. (Rumor has it that there's going to be a dance challenge)! 

Nadiyah Timmons

Nadiyah would like to study architecture in college. This is her first job with CAW and her first time working on a documentary.

Nadiyah Timmons.JPG

"We get different points of view when we talk to people, and that's the same thing I want to show in the documentary."

Why do you want to study architecture?
I just like to draw. I like shapes, geometry.

What do you want people to feel when they see your video?
I want them to feel a sense of welcoming. I want the film to be open to interpretation. Some people may feel different about the murals in the community. We also get different points of view when we talk to people, and that's the same things I want to show in the documentary.

What do you like about the program so far?
I like how it's very hands-on. You’re always doing something, always busy. I like to talk to people in the community to understand how they feel about the [Audubon] murals.

Did you have any difficulty learning to use the camera equipment?
No, it's pretty easy. They explained it one time, and I understood it. It looks harder than it is.

How do you like working with the group?
I like everybody on my production crew and everybody on the whole Multimedia Team. It feels like everyone loves each other. It feels like another family.

Marvin Matias

This is Marvin's third job working in video, but his first job with Creative Art Works. Marvin is going into his junior year, majoring in Sociology at CUNY York College in Jamaica, Queens. He enjoys writing poetry.


"I have executives, I have clients, I have people that I have to get approval from... It feels like there are high expectations."

You've made films before. How do you think this one's going to come out? Are you excited about it?
I feel about the same amount of anxiety that I had the last time I made a video. But this time, it feels more professional. I have executives, I have clients, I have people that I have to get approval from, people who want to make sure my group understands where we are going with our ideas. It feels like there are high expectations.

How do you think people will react when they see your team’s video?
I think people will be excited. It's a topic that people should be talking about more. [This video] could spread the word, so more people will know about [the Audubon Mural Project].

You’ve got just under three weeks to finish your project. Are you nervous about the deadline?
I am, because it does feel tight now, but as long as we manage our time well, then I think we will be okay.

Do you have a favorite director?
I'm not a film nerd, but if I were to pick any director it would be Quentin Tarantino. Django Unchained feels like some '70s cult movie I've seen.

What kind of style do you want for your team’s video?
I haven't really thought of that, honestly. It has to be natural. It won’t work if we force anything.

Arkella Mack

This is Arkella’s first job with Creative Art Works and her first time working in multimedia. Arkella is interested in art and design. She is considering cosmetology school in the fall. 


"I like new experiences. I like new knowledge and being well-rounded."

Did you ever imagine you’d be making a video documentary for your summer job?
Honestly, no. It's definitely new and interesting, because it's fresh. That's something that I was hoping to get out of this summer. I like new experiences. I like new knowledge and being well-rounded.

What's been the most interesting thing about the work so far?
The most interesting thing I would say is learning new things about my community. There are a lot of murals in this area that I didn't even notice. I didn't know the meaning behind them, but now I do. It definitely opened my eyes.

What's been one of the biggest challenges so far? 
I'm not really a camera person or a tech person, so that was a little difficult for me. It’s a challenge coming out of my comfort zone, and being afraid to do things wrong.

Are you comfortable talking to people and conducting interviews?
Public speaking has always been one of my fears, but it's definitely something that this project is helping me to overcome. I don't think it's going to be a problem for me anymore.

How do you think the project's going to turn out? 

I think it's going to be great. We already shot some good footage. There's definitely a lot more to come.

Are you inviting any friends or family to the premiere? 
I'll invite my mom because, she's my biggest supporter. She would definitely love to be there to see my work.

Lucienny Aries

Lucienny just graduated from the Academy for Social Action. This is her first job with Creative Art Works and her first time working in multimedia. 


"I'm very shy, but once I get comfortable with you, you'll see my goofy side."

Why did you want to work for Creative Art Works?
I wanted to have a chance to be creative. 

So far, how does your job hold up to your expectations?
I thought we were going to paint! But it’s cool, because I still get to be creative and I’m learning new stuff. I started this job not knowing anything about filming. But now I'm learning how to edit videos and how to properly use a camera. I also learned how to do animations and voice overs. 

What do you hope people with take away from your project?
I just want them to appreciate the art that's in their community. The murals bring color to the blocks.

One More Reason to be Hopeful

Shakira Lleras, Middle School Science Teacher

Ms. Lleras is a Founding Member of Hamilton Grange Middle School. She participated as a client in the design presentation for the CAW murals being painted at Jacob Schiff School Campus and the adjoining Jacob Schiff Park.

Shakira Lleras.JPG

"These skills are going to help them be independent people when they go out into the world."

What is your impression of the Youth Apprentices working on the mural?
I was struck by the fact that it was such a diverse group of students. Not just ethnically, but in terms of interests and abilities.

What did you think of their client presentation?
They were all involved in the presentation. Every student took ownership of the design in some way. They really listened to the things [Principal Ben Lev] said he wanted to see in the mural and they obviously thought about it with intentionality and purpose and tried to reflect those things in their design. I could see around the room all the different iterations of ideas they created while brainstorming ideas. I thought they did an amazing job of capturing the vision of their clients.

What do you think these apprentices will take away from their experience?
As someone who incorporates integrative education into my own teaching, I saw this confluence of skills coming together in one authentic task. It seemed like they are developing so many skills all at once. They are learning artistic skills, how to work as a team, even a bit of science. We want students to understand that the skills that we're teaching them are not for the sake of a test, but because these skills are going to help them be independent people when they go out into the world, so they can make the best possible decisions for themselves and their community.

A Word of Thanks to Our Clients

We are grateful to our clients for supporting CAW's Public Art Youth Employment program. Thank you for investing your time, energy, passion, and experience in our Youth Apprentices.