“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.”
– CAW Youth Apprentice Deysean Nesbit
The management team of the popular burger franchise Shake Shack commissioned Creative Art Works to produce a mural that will wrap around the front and side of their new location on 125th Street in Harlem because they recognize the power of CAW’s Public Art Youth Employment programs to connect stakeholders – including our Youth Apprentices – to their communities.
Oasis, Creative Art Works' new mural at 601 Lexington Avenue, has been an extraordinary experience in many ways. For most of the Youth Apprentices who contributed to the design and execution of this mural, this was their first work experience and, for many of them, it was their first time making art of any sort. Yet they succeeded beautifully. The ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity of these young people is a reflection of, and a testament to, the creative dynamism that makes New York the greatest city in the world. Our Youth Apprentices flourished as individuals and succeeded as a team because of the unique attributes and different perspectives they brought to the table.
CAW Youth Apprentices from Queensbridge Houses and Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement came together one Saturday to beautify "Baby" Park in Queensbridge. An outpouring of community support created a memorable day and a mural that will last for many years.
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.”
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.
“How can you NOT be optimistic about the future when you spend your days working with young people?” This summer, we’re going to try to bottle the experiences of our Youth Apprentices the way you might catch a firefly in a mayonnaise jar. Between now and the middle of August, we will be posting regular "lightning interviews" on our social media and in our newsletters. Read on for a six flashes of inspiration.
"...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.