All posts by Shaneez Tyndall

Tortilla Social with Urbano

Various people sitting at a long table at Urbano, eating tortillas, and talking. Image by Faizal Westcott, courtesy of Urbano Project.Throughout Fall 2017, Urbano Project youth artists collaborated with interdisciplinary artist-in-residence, Salvador Jimenez-Flores on “Tortilla Socials” – public, interactive printmaking workshops in Jamaica Plain. Using a multi-functional tortilla press designed by Jimenez-Flores himself, participants of all ages had the opportunity to create their own art prints while eating freshly made tortillas.

an artist's working space is covered with tortilla-sized print-making plates, and some prints of a hand held into a fist. Image by Faizal Westcott, courtesy of Urbano Project.
Jimenez-Flores envisioned the people of Jamaica Plain gathering to create art, enjoy Mexican food, and engage in a bilingual dialogue in public community spaces. “Group print-making is a tool for self-expression,” said Jimenez-Flores. “Advocacy and education and food has long been a uniter of communities of all ages.”

A little girl looks at the print that's come from the torilla press in front of her, while 2 young adults look on, smiling. Image by Faizal Westcott, courtesy of Urbano Project.An opening reception and exhibition was held in December 2017 showcasing pieces created during workshops along with a film documenting the community art project.

In January, 14 Urbano fellows and youth artists joined Salvador and printmaker Amelia Spinney for the first time in a week-long printmaking intensive where they designed and produced a collaborative print for public display at the end of the week. Limited edition prints for public display and interventions related to Urbano’s 2018 theme of “Resilience and Sustainability” will be available. The exhibition will be open through March 3, 2018 in Urbano’s studio at 29 Germania St, Building F, Boston.

(Images: Faizal Westcott, courtesy of Urbano Project.)

New Year’s Inspiration

Boston Children's Chorus performing. Image: Gretjen Helene.

Happy New Year! Social justice is at the heart of Creative Youth Development work. Join us in celebrating Dr. King and his legacy with YouthReach and Ser Hacer programs’ young artists across the state:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
11am-1pm – MassMutual Center
Presented by Community Music School of Springfield, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, DREAM Studios, and Springfield College.

Performances CMSS youth musicians from our ensembles, chorus and Springfield school partnerships.

Take My Hand: 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert
7pm – Symphony Hall
Just before sunset on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke with musician Ben Branch in the courtyard of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Branch asked Dr. King what to play at a meeting planned later that evening. Dr. King replied, “You should play Take My Hand, Precious Lord. Play it like you never played it before in your life. Play it real pretty.” The lyrics “lead me on to the light… lead me home” proved prophetic, as Dr. King was assassinated that night. Five days later, Mahalia Jackson performed this same hymn, one of Dr. King’s favorites, at his funeral in Atlanta.

This 15th annual MLK concert reflects the message that a seemingly small gesture – the taking of one’s hand, for example – can lead to enormous change. Small gestures bring us together, unite us, and help us build movements, just as Dr. King’s gestures of love, compassion, tolerance, and hope led to a civil rights movement that transformed the world.

MLK Tribute Concert
NEW TIME/PLACE: 10:30am – Metcalf Hall, Boston University
BYSO performs classical music, spirituals, and freedom songs, with a sing-along and a keynote speaker.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Open House
10am-5pm – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Project STEP students will perform at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts. Mayor Martin J. Walsh is expected to attend and introduce Project STEP. More detailed information regarding Project STEP’s performance time will be posted on the MFA’s web site.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration
5pm – Hibernian Hall
Students playing classical music plus a panel discussion featuring musicians of color in Boston.


Multimedia Hip Hop Civics Curriculum for Youth

Web graphic from Get Free siteAward-winning author and Professor Dr. Bettina L. Love has developed and launched a new online educational resource called GET FREE. A multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum for youth and young adults, GET FREE introduces students to a national network of young community leaders, artists, and activists who advocate for social change and democratic inclusion driven by grassroots organizing. In her own words, “GET FREE is inspired by the exuberance, ingenuity, political energy, resistance, love, and DIY model of underground Hip Hop [and aims to] push and extend ideas of democracy, citizenship, freedom, community, civic engagement, and intersectional justice.”

Dr. Love presented GET FREE to Boston Public Schools educators and teaching artists this fall as a resource to foster cultural competency and to develop a more diverse, inclusive, and relevant curriculum to engage students of color.

GET FREE covers resources that span music, poetry (including curated poetry by queer youth of color), literature, and art disciplines and includes interviews with local activists in select cities along with reflection questions. Articles and syllabus readers are also featured as are resources for mental health and self-care in the face of tragedy.

Dr. Bettina L. LoveAs an Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia, Dr. Love’s research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and intersectional social justice. Her research also focuses on how teachers and schools working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist educational, equitable classrooms.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Named 2017 NAHYP Awardee

L_R Yamilex Ramus Peguero, Maria Cardoso, Christina Turner (Dir. Apprentices & Interns) with the NAHYP Award in Washington, D.C.Mass Cultural Council extends hearty congratulations to New Bedford Whaling Museum for receiving the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award for their High School Apprenticeship Program. The High School Apprenticeship Program immerses students in skill-based humanities and interpretive sciences projects, mentorship, and valuable life skills instruction such as financial literacy, college preparation, public speaking, and audience engagement.

For almost two decades, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has presented the NAHYP Awards, the nation’s highest honor for out of school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. Presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts , National Endowment for the Humanities  and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the award recognizes outstanding Creative Youth Development (CYD) programs from all over the country from a range of urban and rural settings. (See all 2017 Awardees.)

The NAHYP Award showcases and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement. Programs are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

To date, 51 students have graduated from the Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program, 100% have graduated from high school and 94% pursued some form of post-secondary education. About 40% of alumni have returned to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.

Out of a pool of over 350 NAHYP nominations nationwide, three Massachusetts programs were also recognized as finalists this year:

The achievements of these programs speak to the exemplary work in the field of CYD happening across the Commonwealth and a strong testament to all of those committed to working with youth to achieve social change through the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Longest Running Solely Youth-Led Film Festival Turns 20

This year marked the 20th anniversary of Community Art Center’s Do It Your Damn Self – the longest running solely youth-led film festival in the country.

The festival is a product of Community Art Center’s Teen Media Program. Established in 1970, the program continues to inspire and empower teen storytellers to move forward with self-assurance and dignity, living out the motto and mission of “if you want something done, you gotta ‘do it your damn self!’”

Mindful from RAW Art Works’ Real To Reel Program in Lynn, MA.

The festival  featured a diverse array of films with wide reaching subject matter. All the same, staying true to the original mission of the six founding teen members to, ‘make change in their communities’, themes of social justice served as a through line in multiple films.

The film #BlackLivesMatter knit together images of the harsh realities of police brutality cases in recent years and the social unrest that has given rise to protests. Similarly, hip hop music video Pain highlights a young African-American male’s perspective on police brutality. Reach, an experimental film, takes viewers inside the reality of just existing as a black person in modern day America while Fault Lines speaks to how students can easily slip through the cracks of the education system.

Reach from YouthFX in Albany, NY.

Issues of representation in the media were featured as well. The film Tokenized follows Maggie whose life is changed when she is cast as a token character in her white male best friend Spencer’s story. As Maggie adjusts to life in her new role in Spencer’s story, she becomes more aware of how the unjust “storyboard system” has negatively impacted not only her life but that of her fellow token allies. The film brilliantly ties in LGBTQ issues when a character cast as Spencer’s love interest shows interest in Maggie instead. Eventually, along with her new love interest and other ‘tokens’, Maggie confronts the system eventually flipping the script and gaining her due agency in the process.

Other films addressing media representation included The Seated Siren and Life Rolls On.

The films (narrative and documentary respectively) touch on what it’s like living with physical disabilities. In The Seated Siren, the heroine struggles with the dating pool being seen as an invalid rather than as a person with feelings. Life Rolls On highlights Danny whose life was forever changed after enduring a sports accident. The film emphasizes how Danny is actually not a victim and instead, consistently continues to conquer life and its obstacles each and every day.

By the Way, by St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, Austin, TX

The festival also had its share of incredibly innovative storytelling. The film By The Way features a love story with a young couple who forms a bond over scribbling doodles on their shared desk. Finally, Mindful has a unique take on the issue of mental illness with a student personifying anxiety, depression, negativity and happiness and placing these characters into a police detective action narrative with a comedic twist.

All of the films in their own way offered an inside look at the humanity of a variety of hot topic issues that can often be difficult to fully understand when thought of at all. They were also a reminder of the arts’ power to connect people and create a space for discussion and ultimately understanding.

Congratulations to all 2017 winners.

Cape Youth Reaching Forward

In the spring, Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) celebrated the Art on the Edge and Reaching Forward’s exhibition opening.

Art on the Edge (AOTE), a free studio program taught by professional artists to support the development of local artists ages 11-14, offers semester-long studio classes including art history presentations, opportunities to create individual and collaborative works of art, and exhibitions in the Museum School and galleries of PAAM. Students work with professional teaching artists and explore a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, animation, and drawing.

The Reaching Forward Student Mentor Program (launched to dovetail with AOTE) provides professional development in the arts for 17-22 year olds. Student mentors learn from contemporary artists, develop leadership skills, deepen their own art practices, and serve as role models for their younger peers in the AOTE program. Many of the mentors have been AOTE students themselves and have also participated in Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach funded program Art Reach, a free multidisciplinary afternoon immersion program for arts and humanities education offered to high school and college aged students.

This year’s exhibit included a variety of work including shadowboxes, plein air painting, and prints from plates:


Students learned about the ways artists create the illusion of depth by playing with scale and repetition in forms, perspective and color.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum's "Shadowboxes" Art on the Edge Exhibition

Plein Air Painting

Like French Impressionist painters of the 19th Century, students drew and painted outdoors, studied color relationships in natural light and used watercolors to sketch the bay at St. Mary’s of the Harbor.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum's "Plein Air" Art on the Edge Exhibition

Prints from Plates

Inspired by the maritime wood carving work of Clare Leighton, students worked directly from 12 original New England industries prints from PAAM’s collection. Students also went onto create their own plates.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum's "From Prints to Plates" Art on the Edge Exhibition

“I love the satisfaction of creating something and it being better than I thought I could do. And so, art is a good way for me to combine creative thought and process with my drive to constantly do better. Art Reach has given me a good opportunity to apply my skills and desires to practice and improve, by giving me new projects and art mediums that challenge what I know and what I can do.” – Nathan Balk King

“Each week, I’m excited to come back and work with friends. Regardless of whether we’re working together on a project, or just enjoying each other’s company. [PAAM’s] fantastic programs push me to be myself rather than someone I’m not.” – Keith Taylor

Hannah Capra with her collage. Photo: Art Reach at PAAM

Hannah Capra, a 16 year old from Marstons Mills currently in her junior year at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, has blossomed from middle-school novice to practicing artist and a mentor to her younger peers.

“I have been making work at PAAM for 5 years now, and I have learned and grown here so much more than I ever thought I could. There is nothing better than taking negative emotion and turning it into something really beautiful. The feeling of putting so much of myself into my work, in attempt to help myself cope – and maybe help others – is my purpose,” she said.

Over the summer, Hannah’s work was featured in Shirl Roccapriore’s annual Youth Artist Program Exhibition at the Oils by the Sea Gallery in Provincetown which celebrates local talent and also serves as a fundraiser for Art Reach.

The value and rigor of PAAM’s programs are incredibly clear not only with beautiful work at an exhibition, but also through the meaningful relationships and growth students experience.

Youth Arts Advocates Represent

This Spring, while most Boston teens enjoyed a week off from school, over 50 high school students and youth workers gathered for the 3rd Annual Youth Arts Action Retreat at Zumix in East Boston. Facilitated by MassCreative’s Tracie Konopinski, students brainstormed ways to help their local communities thrive, learned the value of storytelling skills in advocacy, and how to use their art and their voices to take action in their communities.

Participating organizations included the Boch Center, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Community Art Center, Hyde Square Task Force, Sociedad Latina, Zumix, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA), Urbanity Dance, and the Mayor’s Youth Council of Boston. Students learned the value of storytelling skills in advocacy and how to take action in their communities.

After a morning of theory and lectures, young people used their talents in music, dance, theatre, poetry, and art to explore what Boston would look like without art. They later performed these pieces open mic style. Teens said they looked forward to engaging deeper in advocacy with elected officials around the role of the arts and the state arts budget.

Express Yourself Youth Have SOUL

Express Yourself SOUL 2017 Showcase. Photo is the property of Express Yourself. Image by Mike Dean Photography.Year round, Express Yourself introduces and immerses young people into the world of music, dance, theater, and visual art with transformative results. Through artistic expression, youth move from a place of isolation to one of belonging and learn to use a variety of creative means to express themselves in positive and healthy ways. In the process, young people discover and develop inner strengths and gain a greater sense of connection with others. All of this work culminates in the annual Express Yourself showcase presented in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health.

At this year’s 23rd annual showcase, over 200 young people performed at Boston’s Boch Center – Wang Theater.  They entertained an enthusiastic audience sporting festive glow stick necklaces and bracelets. Celebrating this year’s “SOUL” theme, the program featured set pieces designed by youth as well as a medley of singing, drumming, and dance performances.

The showcase also featured guest performances by Afro-Brazilian percussionist Marcus Santos, Cammie Griffin and John Angeles of “STOMP”, funk soul, reggae singer Toussaint Liberator, Boston Children’s Chorus, Joyspring Community Chorus (directed by Jonathan Singleton) and West African Master Drummer Joh Camara.

Apprentices Build Boats & Life Skills

Boat building by New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program participantsOn a Thursday afternoon in March, students at New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program are  diligently at work. Decked out in goggles and gloves, they use a blueprint to construct a boat – a life-size replica of a small, paper model. From assembling to smoothing, gluing and prepping, students take care of the entire operation.

Open to low-income New Bedford high school students, the Apprenticeship Program is designed to immerse students in skill-based projects in the humanities and interpretive sciences, intensive mentorship, and life skills instruction, including college preparation and financial literacy. They also receive training in public speaking, personal comportment, and audience engagement. Students meet four days a week after school in the Museum’s Apprentice Lab.

Apprentices exemplify the mission of the program with clear professionalism, goal-oriented motivation and resourcefulness. As students directed a tour through the diverse galleries describing the exhibits with a comfortable familiarity, it was clear that the museum is a second home.

“I have learned about some of the components that are used to make boats and actually how to build a boat. I have also learned how to handle my personal finances.” – Kelton, youth participant

“This program has challenged me because it’s made me more open and more comfortable talking to people.” – Darlene, youth participant

“[The Apprenticeship Program] has challenged me to practice my English” – Suely, youth participant

“The program has really challenged me to find a balance between school and work.”  – Ryland, youth participant

“Traveling to Iceland [with the program] was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been given. It really changed my outlook on people and I’d really love to go back and explore more.” – Alexandra, youth participant

Boat building by New Bedford Whaling Museum’s High School Apprenticeship Program participants

To date, there have been 47 graduates from the Apprenticeship Program. 100% have graduated from high school and 93% have pursued post-secondary education. This year, an apprentice will attend an Ivy League school in the fall, the first of the program’s graduates to do so. A second program graduate is also scheduled to receive their Master’s in 2018. The program boasts a strong alumni base with past apprentices returning to the museum as part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and guest speakers.

The group’s boat is set to float at the Boat Launching Party on May 20 at the Community Boating Center of New Bedford.