“Kids at this age are perfectly ready to create stories. Characters spill from their brains. These characters might be the product of an active imagination, or a response to something they read in books or saw on TV, or they may possibly be a way of processing their own personal development.”
— CAW Teaching Artist Ayla Rexroth on student-created cartoon characters in the Cartoon and Anatomy program at Hamilton Grange Middle School.
The self-portrait project is among our most joyous; it goes straight to the core of Creative Art Works’ mission to equip, connect, and inspire NYC kids through the artistic process. Above and beyond learning technical drawing skills, our students explore their sense of identity. As they learn how to render themselves within a setting of their choosing, they imagine their place in the world and the contributions they will make to it. And wow, do we love what they see! Their optimism -- their sense of power and possibility for the future -- is all a delight to behold, and fills us with hope.
The most important connections in our lives are the ones closest to home. This summer, our Multimedia Team created five short films about nonprofits and other organizations that work to improve the quality of life in our city. The subjects include pianos in public places, a grass-roots effort to make improvements to a local city park, an ambitious plan to create murals in Upper Manhattan of 314 North American birds threatened by climate change, and a program that brings soccer and poetry to young NYC residents. Of course, there is also a documentary about Creative Art Works summer Public Art Youth Employment program.
“Migrations” is part of the The Audubon Mural Project, a collaboration between the National Audubon Society and Gitler &_____ Gallery to create murals of North American birds around Washington Heights, where John James Audubon lived during the last years of his life. The project’s goal is to commission artists to paint murals of 314 species of birds which are threatened by a warming climate.
Our first set of "lightning interviews" were recorded on only the second day of our summer 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.
Stop-motion animation is a multidisciplinary art form that incorporates writing, sculpture, painting and digital video techniques. For this project, students wrote short scenes, built miniature sets, and designed characters using modeling clay. That part of the process is limited only by the imagination of the artist. Animating the characters, by contrast, requires patience, planning, and communication.
In the internet age, when social media platforms allow young people to instantly broadcast their thoughts and opinions to the world with a just a few taps on their smart phone, face-to-face conversations can seem quaint, if not downright low-tech. Yet impromptu speaking is a skill that both kids and adults use every day in school, with friends and family, and on the job. In January, students in CAW after-school art workshops had a chance to talk about their art to friends, family, teachers and administrative staff in RL (real-life) at culmination events.
Any parent who has ever read a picture book to their child knows that some days the child will insist that it’s their turn to tell the story. As young children look at pictures, they naturally tell stories about what might be happening. They do this with their parents, their siblings, their classmates and their teachers. By constructing their own meanings about what they see, children become active creators of their own knowledge.
How can a social media post help students better understand the motivations of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird? What qualities do Greek gods share with everyday heroes? These are questions that students in Creative Art Works' integrated arts programs are contemplating with this fall.
"...Our mural began and we finished the plan,
And I just want to say how proud that I am.
I’m blessed for my God, blessed for my people,
Blessed to be up here rather down there with evil.
Blessed to be on the mural that’s mentioned,
The mural that brings out attention,
The mural that we have invented,
This is our Ascension!"
"...our final proposal to the client was all of our ideas put together... We sorted. We found a way to put it all together, so now everyone’s satisfied with what they see."
CAW Summer Youth Apprentice Cyrell Primo shares her #SummerJobStories and touches on the intersection of music, art and ideas.
A CAW Youth Apprentice is making a difference in the world without leaving his block.
Every morning, Tyrese Kierstedt walks out the front door of his apartment building, hangs a left, goes twenty feet and arrives at his summer job. Tyrese is one of several Youth Apprentices who are painting Creative Art Works' third mural for West Harlem Group Assistance, a community-based development corporation dedicated to revitalizing West and Central Harlem communities. The mural is located on the northwest corner of 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue, half a block north of Communities for Healthy Food at WHGA, a food pantry that promotes healthy lifestyles and provides related services to Harlem residents.
Our 2016 Public Art Youth Employment Program started on July 5th with an orientation at the Oberia D. Dempsey Multi-Service Center in Harlem. Over the course of six weeks, Youth Apprentices will be paid to participate in six mural projects and to contribute to two multi-media or graphics projects at six partner locations. Read on for details about each site.
Creative Art Works is proud to participate in MonumentArt, an international mural festival that is bringing together outstanding artists from around the world to simultaneously paint monumental murals in nine public spaces in the South Bronx and Manhattan’s East Harlem/El Barrio neighborhood. CAW Teaching Artists and Youth Employees are working alongside renowned Guest Artists, including Elizam Escobar, Luis Vidal, Faith47, El Mac, Sego, Cero, Ever, Viajero and 2Alas.
Most people who pass by our Public Art Youth Employment worksites are nothing short of supportive and encouraging, but on very rare occasions, you encounter a detractor. In this short video, Creative Art Works Youth Apprentice Sophia Ridley shares her story about finding her voice when confronted by an aggressive critic.
We have two stories for you this week. First, thunderstorms did not dampen the spirits of a dozen volunteers from CAW's long-time supporters JLL who visited two of our summer mural sites. Second, students in a CAW integrated art unit at the JCC's Math and Literacy Camp got to explore three ancient civilizations -- including exploring the caves of Lascaux with a torch!
Today the Multimedia Team joined the Youth Employees from Renaissance School of the Arts on a field trip to The Museum of the City of New York. CAW Teaching Artist Assistant Kito Kirtley said she wanted her students to be encouraged to make art of their own.
The CAW Youth Apprentices designing a Mural for Renaissance School of the Arts calls themselves, “Murally Minded.” During a client presentation on Monday, July 20th, “Murally Minded” presented their design to the Renaissance administration and teaching staff and leaders from the local community. CAW Executive Director Brian Ricklin and Program Director Anthony González were also in attendance.