One Big Family
Creative Art Works has partnered with PAL on Public Art Youth Employment programs since 2014. We’ve created murals for PAL Duncan Center in Hell’s Kitchen, PAL Harlem Center, PAL New South Bronx Center on Longwood Avenue, and most recently at the PAL Webster-Giannone Center in Fordham Manor. Together, CAW and PAL have provided work experience to over 125 Youth Apprentices from Manhattan and The Bronx. In turn, those Youth Apprentices have created eight murals that speak to their families and friends and are a source of pride to their local communities.
Our latest mural for PAL, Colors of the Bronx, represents PAL’s core values and their mission to develop NYC young people through educational, recreational, athletic, and other social programs. The mural design, which encompasses three exterior walls on the corner of Webster Avenue and Ford Street, includes images such as a college diploma and young people engaged in a variety of athletic and recreational activities. The faces of three women represent the vibrant ethnic and cultural diversity of surrounding community, while images of street signs, local apartment buildings and a city bus ground the composition in the daily life of The Bronx.
Over the course of the summer, many people from the neighborhood made a point of stopping by to watch the mural progress and to encourage the Youth Apprentices. In a way, the community embraced the work as their own even before it was completed, and several made a point of attending the public unveiling.
During an energetic and heartfelt unveiling ceremony, our Youth Apprentices, all Bronx residents between the ages of 16 and 21, spoke about the challenges of creating a complex work of art under a tight deadline on a street corner that catches the brunt of the summer sun. They spoke about their personal growth, the job skills they acquired, and their personal connection to the art. But the word that popped up again and again was, “family.” Over the course of six weeks, these young people bonded with each other, their Teaching Artists, and their community. Read on for some selected quotes from the unveiling.
PAL Director of Teen Programming and Juvenile Justice
After eight murals, you would think you would start to see some repetition, but if you look all of our sites, each one is unique. and beautiful in its own right. However, there is a common denominator: When you see any of these murals they just make you feel happy. Even seeing them every day, when I walk up to the building, the murals make me smile. What you've given PAL and The Bronx is a gift that is going to last for many many years.
This mural includes contributions from everybody on the team, and it's a reflection of the vibrant and beautiful colors of The Bronx. This summer, I learned that leadership is not about telling other people what to do, but instead it's about taking responsibility for your actions, and owning up to everything that you're capable of.
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.
My experience here was wonderful. All of my Teaching Artists were just great mentors – they taught me so many new things. I’ve also worked with all these wonderful people and we've grown together as a family, and I guess that was the best thing that’s happened to me.