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 YA’s. This week, we are focusing on painters working on a project for our partners at Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, Jacob Schiff School Campus and Bronx Family Court.


Kwanza Owes

“I’m passionate about art — all types of art. Even if I don’t do it myself, I still appreciate it, because it’s a creative outlet for people to show how they feel about the world.”


Kwanza is a Harlem native who is passionate about the arts whether it be music, drawing, or anything where he can be creative. He is working with the gym wall mural team at Jacob Schiff School Campus.

Why did you decide to join CAW?
I was in a CAW summer program a year ago. It was a new experience, and it ignited a positive artistic flow in my body. I was excited to create art for my community and to be in the moment.


What is your dream job?
I want to be a famous animator or illustrator, and make a name for myself in the art world.

What do you do in your free time?
Anything with art and music. I draw and chill with my friends. We all want to make music too.  

Who is the biggest inspiration in your life right now?
My family. They motivate me to always go a step further.

If you could meet any person in the world who would it be?
I would love to have met Keith Haring before he passed away, because I feel like he set a standard for artists, which is to never hold back how you feel about art and how you express yourself.


Krystyna Maldonado

“When I heard we were painting a mural outside, I thought it would be very exciting because I always see murals around my city and I always take pictures of them. They look so beautiful, nice, and colorful. I wanted to be a part of that.”


Krystyna is a Brooklyn native who loves to paint and listen to music while always staying productive and motivated. She is working with the mural team at Madison Square Boys & Girls Club.

What do you think you’ll get out of this job?
To be more artistic and to see art in a different way. We’re trying to tell a story with our mural, so that will make me look at other murals around the city differently, and try to see what the story is behind those murals.

What do you want to do in the future?
I want to have my own business and be my own boss. I don’t want to be the employee, I want to be the employer.


What do you do in your free time?
I listen to music. I’m always by myself and trying to focus. I really like thinking about productive stuff to do, even on my days off. It makes me feel better.

Who is the most important person in your life?
I have three little brothers and they’re my motivation. I have to do whatever it takes for me to make progress so that they can be good and I can be the big sister that they need in their life.

If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
I feel like racism is a big thing. Black people don’t get as many advantages, and I have three black little brothers. Another thing is police brutality.

Deysean grew up in the Polo Grounds and is working with a team producing murals and paintings for Madison Square Boys & Girls Club. This is his first job with Creative Art Works.


Deysean Nesbit

“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.”


Who is the most important person in your life?
My mother, because, I mean, she gave me everything she could when nobody else did. I feel like it's my time to give back.


What's your dream job?
To own my own business. A clothing store, or a sneaker store, something like that.

How do you think this summer job is helping you?
It keeps me motivated to make art. Hopefully, one day I will teach kids what I learned.

If you could change one thing about the world to make it a better place, what would it be?
If people would just come together and join as one, regardless of the color of their skin, that'd make the world a better place.


Ashley Gonzalez

"I will definitely have a better perspective on art, do well by others and hopefully have positive energy surrounding me."


Born and raised in the Bronx, Ashley is a free spirit who is very conscious about the problems we face as a society and is also very curious about the human mind. She is working on the new gym wall mural at Jacob Schiff School Campus.

Why did you decide to join CAW?
I joined Creative Art Works so I can improve my resume and also to improve my drawing.

What is your dream job?
I want to work with the criminally insane.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would make a law to stop killing all animals and to protect endangered species of plants and animals so the world will survive.


Leaire Smaltz

“The most important person in my life is my mom. Even when she’s faced with a challenge, she just pushes right through it. I admire that about her and that’s something I want to thank her for.”


Leaire is a Harlem native who is seeking to make a name for himself producing beats and fashion. He is working with the Bronx Family Court team, painting five large canvases.


What are you passionate about?
Mostly fashion, drawing sketches and designs, and producing beats.

What are you going to be doing in the fall?
I might start college, I want to study business marketing and I also want to get better at producing music. For right now, I’m just working two jobs so I can save money for books and stuff.