“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.
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.
As part of our work with schools, we often invite parents to enter more deeply into the learning environment through Family Engagement workshops. These weekend and evening events allow parents to explore art-making firsthand – to experience the curiosity, creativity, and even joy inherent in the process, and to witness it in their children. We can't send a CAW Teaching Artist to your home to lead a Family Engagement workshop, but we can do the next best thing. This week’s blog includes instructions for a simplified printmaking project that you can do at home with your kids. Save it for a snowy afternoon, or make some Pinterest-worthy holiday cards today!
Sometimes, good things come in threes. This past November, several Creative Art Works students and Youth Apprentices earned recognition from local, national and international organizations. We are beyond proud of our young people and we would like to share their accomplishments with you.
During a demonstration of an integrated art project, the Creative Art Works board of directors got to make their own kinetic sculptures inspired by the work of Alexander Calder. The response was so enthusiastic that we’ve decided to share with you four art projects you can do at home with your family and friends.
Students at Hamilton Grange Middle School are studying Greek Myths in their English Language Arts class. While Greek gods had awesome powers they also had human flaws. To better understand how fictional characters can have complex personalities, these same students will be creating their own versions of gods with a mixtures of powers and flaws in a CAW integrated painting and drawing class.
Creative Art Works is offering an after-school art-making program for second-grade students at PS 192 in Hamilton Heights. We sat in on a class on making self-portraits that engaged a very energetic group of young artists on many levels. Not only did students this literacy-based program have an opportunity to make art, they also developed public speaking, problem-solving, fine motor and observation skills.
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.
“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.”
The 18 Youth Apprentices who designed this mural wanted to offer a message of hope and unity to the young people of the South Bronx, and to inspire them to pursue their passions and make healthy life choices. This message informs the symbolism of the mural. As a storm clears behind them, two PAL kids, supported by lily pads, work together to unlock the magic of their potential futures. The water illy symbolizes resilience and strength, as it gestates in the mud and rises to the top of the pond to bloom as a beautiful flower.
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.
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.