In our final round of lightning interviews, CAW Youth Apprentices talk about their experiences working on Momentum, the CAW mural commissioned by Dock 72 and a partnership between Boston Properties and Rudin Management. The scope of this project was truly ambitious. In just six weeks, Twenty-eight young people designed and painted a 150-foot long fence plus two storage containers. The massive art project will be visible from across the East River when it is installed next to a nearby ferry slip this fall. The demands of the work required all the Youth Apprentices to dig into their inner reserves and also to come together as a team.
We talked to five members of the Momentum team about their work experiences, their plans for the future, and their ideal dinner companion.
Alex was born in Ecuador, but moved to Brooklyn when he was five. While this is his first time working for CAW, he previously contributed to a mural on the campus of City Tech where he currently attends college.
"You won't always be satisfied with the final art, no matter how hard you work. On the other hand, the magnitude of this project was huge, so I am satisfied that we accomplished so much."
What's it been like working with this team?
Some people had a lot of experience making art and were very passionate about what they were doing. For others it was their first time, but everyone contributed a part of their vision to create something new. Overall, it was a great working experience.
What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
I believe my greatest strength would be my adaptability. My greatest weakness is I have difficulty conversing with people until after I get to know them for a while.
Have you found that this summer job has made it easier for you to talk to people?
Definitely. I grew as a person and I developed some bonds with people here, so that's something I cherish.
If you could have any super power in the world, what would it be?
The ability to be good at everything.
If you could have dinner with anybody living or dead, who would it be?
Tim Burton. I always enjoyed the gothic aesthetic of his movies and his characters. His style heavily inspired me.
What’s your favorite section of the mural and why?
I like the gears, because, metaphorically, the gears are the things that are turning everything forward – time, the mural, life in general. The gears of time keep turning. Some things change, some things stay the same.
A Brooklyn Native, Isanah will start her junior year at the New York City Museum School in the fall. This was her first job with CAW.
"When we finished the mural, I got very emotional. This is the best job I've ever had. It gave me an opportunity to paint, create, learn, and meet new people. If I had a chance to do this again in the future, I'd be there and committed."
What’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
My greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. I'm a perfectionist. I feel that sometimes hurts me, because I can work at something all day and never finish.
Given that you are a perfectionist, are you satisfied with how the mural looks?
"Honestly, there are some parts of the mural that I like more than others, but everybody has a different creative process. You have to compromise to some extent."
What’s your favorite part of the mural?
The palm trees and fruit, because nobody knew how to make it look right and I’m the person who made it work. Also, it's also the transition from literal symbols to figurative symbols.
If you could talk to anybody in the world, who would it be?
Kanye West. People give him a bad rap, but I feel like if you actually sat down and talked to him, he would have something smart to say. A conversation with him would be really interesting. It would be funny. I'm all into funny.
Oscar graduated from Brooklyn High School of the Arts. He studied mechanical engineering for two years at City College, but his passion for the arts prompted him to transfer to the University of Buffalo to study environmental design.
"Going from art to science and then back to art was a cool experience. You get to learn the best of both worlds."
What is environmental design?
It's just gathering space and inventing new things that benefit the people of a community by creating a better living environment.
What's it been like working with the Dock 72 mural team?
I feel like over time, we grew into a family. It was definitely more than just a job. It was a learning experience and more than I expected from painting a mural.
If you could meet anybody in the world and have dinner with them, who would it be?
Shoot! That's a hard one! It might be Elon Musk. I feel like his insight on technology and how we're going to evolve as a species over time is just super interesting.
A Brooklyn native who is passionate about the arts, Jaysha will enter the Urban Assembly for Music and Arts High School as a senior in September. Jaysha spends most of her free time in the music studio, either producing or recording.
"We had to get comfortable with each other really fast and manage to work together. You might not like the way somebody is painting, but you have to respect their work."
What's your greatest strength?
If you tell me to do something, even though I don't want to do it, I'm still going to get the job done.
What's your greatest weakness?
I would say my strength is kind of a weakness too.
What’s your favorite section of the mural?
The brownstones. When we first started the mural, we talked a lot about how we were going to create a sense of place. Once we added the brownstones, it felt more like Brooklyn.
If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, living or dead, who would it be?
Tupac Shakur, because, even though people give him a bad rap, whenever I watch documentaries about him, he seems like a real intellectual. I would like to talk to him.
Devalis is a multi-talented Brooklyn native who studies studio art at York College. Devalis says he was lonely and often the target of bullying until he discovered his passion for music, which helped him to grow more confident. This was his second summer job and his first one with CAW.
"I had a really great time meeting new people and making new friends. I didn't understand the value of that until the last day. I wish that I had been able to get to know everybody better.
How has this job lived up to your expectations?
It exceeded them. I study studio art in college, so this job is aligned with my interests.
What's your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
I'm very quiet. It's a strength and a weakness. It's a weakness, because people always want to know what's going on in my head, but at certain times it's better to keep your mouth closed.
What would be your dream job if you could do anything you want?
Producer and rapper and graphic designer all at the same time.