“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.
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.
“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.
Home is where the heart is, and CAW’s heart has been in El Barrio ever since we began offering arts programs there 30 years ago. We are excited to be offering a new art workshop for families with young children at Artspace PS109 every Saturday in February.