“Design is design, whether you are cutting and pasting with paper and scissors or 'cutting and pasting' on a computer. Kids who have a chance to do both make those connections.”
— CAW Teaching Artist Brandi Martin Yu on the common thread between CAW’s Book Arts and Digital Arts after-school programs at PSMS 278 in Manhattan.
Going back to school to earn your high school diploma can be a struggle; so can wrestling with complex issues of social justice. In a CAW integrated art class at Innovations Diploma Plus High School in Manhattan, students are challenged to do both.
Creating a short animated video is a whole lot of fun. It’s also a whole lot of work. Bringing a few seconds of animated video to life requires hours of planning, patience, and persistence. In this Creative Art Works’ after-school program, students learned the many skills needed to bring their creative vision to life.
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.
“Corporate art can be very boring, because there’s a perceived expectation of what corporations want, which can be interpreted as sterile or somber. So, don't give us what you think we want. Don't give us stock photos. Be real. Be bold. Be honest. Challenge our expectations.”
Kids at ACS Children’s Center are experiencing extraordinary circumstances at a young age, yet they remain resilient and they persevere. They are generally kind and loving to each other and adults. They have open hearts. These are also really smart. They are curious and eager to share their knowledge & interests. And their desire to create is palpable. Children seem to find their way into the art room.
As an undergraduate, I studied with Stanley Whitney, who taught me to embrace the unpredictable nature of color. Stanley said you have to admit that some things are beyond your control. When your paints don’t do what you want them to do, you have to turn that into an opportunity. That’s one of the axioms in my classroom, “There are no mistakes in art!”
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.
This fall, Creative Art Works is offering some of New York City’s most vulnerable youth an opportunity to connect with themselves and their community, develop their own voice and, simply enjoy a healthy and creative experience. CAW is providing two after-school art programs to young children and teens living in the Children’s Center, a transitional residence run by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) for young people who are awaiting foster care placement.
"...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!"
All art-making is an act of communication. The processes that surround exhibiting artwork — the development of artists’ statements, the receiving of feedback and recognition — are essential elements in supporting the development of a sense of agency: the belief that intentional, creative action can transform the world around us.
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.