Category Archives: Visual Arts

Full Circle

Representative Sarah Peake, Lynn Stanley, and Arts Foundation of Cape Cod Executive Director Kevin HowardRecently, Lynn Stanley, Curator of Education at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, was named Arts Educator of the Year by the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod. Following are her remarks upon receiving the award.

Picture it: I am five and drawing a picture in my kindergarten class. Lacking the color pink, I put a layer of red crayon down, then find a piece of white chalk and apply that on top. As it turns out, I’ve taken Miss Roger’s chalk. Worse, the red crayon has stained the chalk. I’m afraid that if she finds out, I’ll be in big trouble. Instead, when she sees what I’ve done, she is delighted that I know how to mix colors. Thus I become aware that I know something that not everyone else knows—and instead of punishment I’ve been seen and understood.

When considering the roles that art and education have played in my own life, what comes to mind is this 50-year-old memory—one of the first I can associate with being valued in the world as a creative being. I could say that it is because I work with children, teens, and young adults as an administrator and teacher at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum that the connection to that 5-year-old me continues to be alive and present in me today. But really, I think it’s the other way around—that feeling of being valued as a creative young person is at the foundation of my life as an educator. I doubt that Miss Rogers knew the importance of her actions that day.

Fast forward ten years. I’m 15 and as a teenager I’ve experienced things I can’t yet put language to. Instead, I engage in all kinds of risky behavior—I skip school, take drugs, hitchhike, and run away from home. As my grades take a nosedive and my parents struggle to understand what has become of their once comprehensible daughter, art remains a place where I can make meaning, find meaning, and be valued. Art has become a way of being and a lifeline for me.

I don’t know what the fifteen year old I was would think if she could see your recognition of my efforts today. But I can guess that there would be a few school officials—the administrators who hauled me into the office for any number of offences or sentenced me to what we called the “rubber room” during school suspensions, and the teachers who tried to reach me and failed—yes, I’m guessing there would be a few who would be shocked that I survived my youth and have actually joined their ranks.

So I stand here before you today as a reminder to every hard-working educator and arts administrator that you can not possibly know all the good you do or the changes you enact in the lives of the young people you work with. Some of your work will not bear fruit for many years. But I’m living proof that your efforts—along with the love and compassion that fuels them—bring about change that is real and infinitely good.

Twelve years ago I joined the staff of PAAM. Some of you have heard me say that when I started working on out-of-school youth programs I had no idea what I was doing. This is not false modesty. However, what I lacked in knowledge I made up for in the desire to provide a safe, accessible, creative environment for all kinds of kids. I was lucky–very lucky–to find myself in the right place at the right time, among colleagues and leaders who supported my efforts. I thank the very gifted artists who have made PAAM’s programs exemplary. My parents for their love, and for my mother’s example that one never stops learning. My partner Tracey Anderson—whose brilliance illuminates every aspect of my work as an artist, an educator, and a human being. Chris McCarthy for her courage and her far-reaching vision—thanks to you we have a beautiful museum and museum school that youth can grow and flourish in—may it continue for another 100 years. I thank the Massachusetts Cultural Council—I doubt that PAAM’s youth programs would have gotten off the ground without the support I received from the MCC—and I’m not just talking about financial support—every step of the way. I want to thank anyone and everyone who has ever given a cent to support arts education—your money is well spent and an investment in the best of all possible worlds. Representative Sarah Peake and Senator Dan Wolf for their commitment to the arts. Kevin Howard and the staff of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod.

Finally I want to thank the young people in our lives who take the biggest risks, the most courageous risks, when they forge into the unknown and make something new.

Work from PAAM’s ArtReach program will be on view in Doric Hall at the Massachusetts State House May 12-16. Join Lynn, the young artists, and others for a reception May 14, 3:30-5:00 PM to help advance Collective Action for Youth: An Agenda for Progress Through Creative Youth Development – a dynamic new policy agenda created during the recent National Summit on Creative Youth Development.

Youth Showcase at IBA on January 16

Charge up for the new year. On January 16, 2014 Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion hosts La Lengua del Poder (The Language of Power), a showcase of young people freeing their voices through visual art, theater, music, movement, and poetry. Free. 6-9pm. Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 West Newton St., Boston. Part of the YouthReach 20th anniversary celebration.

La Lenqua Del Poder event flyer

X Marks the Inspiration

TEDxBoston’s 2013 website posed a single, provocative question: “Where do you go for inspiration in Boston?” The organizers answered their own question by turning to Artists For Humanity (AFH), commissioning the youth-driven studio to develop an innovative take on the TEDx “X”.  From initial concept meetings with the client  through design and final execution, the process at AFH was characteristically youth-led and professional.

Cape & Boston Programs Win National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award

Boston Children’s Chorus Executive Director David C. Howse and singer Amber Rodriguez with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Art Reach at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and the Boston Children’s Chorus were each presented with a 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by First Lady Michelle Obama during a ceremony in the in the White House’s East Room on November 22. The award is the nation’s highest honor for outstanding after-school and out-of-school programs.

  • Art Reach at Provincetown Art Association and Museum is a free, multidisciplinary afternoon immersion program providing substantive arts and humanities education for youth aged 13 years and up.
  • Boston Children’s Chorus provides intense choral training and performance opportunities in order to harness the power and joy of music to unite Greater Boston’s diverse communities and inspire social change.

Lukas from Provincetown Art Association and Museum hugs First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo by Ralph Alswang.

Art Reach and the Boston Children’s Chorus were among 50 exemplary programs across the country selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) as National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards Finalists. Two other Massachusetts programs – Project STEP and True Colors: Out Youth Theater at the Theater Offensive – were also selected as finalists. In the 16-year history of the awards, 37 Massachusetts organizations have been recognized, including 21 national winners. MCC is proud to support these organizations through its YouthReach Initiative and other grant programs. Read the full press release.

Urbano’s Urban Myths + The Dream Machine

Preparation for Urbano's Dec. 2013 show

Teens at Urbano are busy preparing their winter exhibition, Urban Myths + The Dream Machine, which opens December 17, 2013, 5:30-7:30 pm. This is the second exhibition of their yearlong theme, “The Emancipated City: Reimagining Boston,” and will showcase art combining video, performance, installation, and sound, all created by young artists in partnership with their teaching artist mentors. This event is free and open to the public and will take place at 284 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain.

Self Portrait by “Tommy”

Self Portrait by Doug

I bought this piece last June at an amazing art show at The State House sponsored by the Mass. Department of Youth Services. (“Tommy” is an assumed name, to protect the artist’s anonymity.)

The piece drew me from across the room because it was familiar—it reminded me of so many young men I see on the T and around my neighborhood.  I was also drawn by the drama of the color choices, and I was moved by the emotions revealed in those eyes.  I knew I had to purchase the piece, though, when I read Tommy’s simple artist’s statement:

“I was really intimidated by this project, but I finally finished it.”

I love that I live in a state where there are art teachers within the Department of Youth Services.  And I love that Tommy’s art teacher pushed him to do something really hard, and that the art teacher knew he could accomplish it, even if Tommy didn’t.  And I love that Tommy stuck with it.  But most of all, I love that Tommy had the courage to admit he had been intimidated.

Giving young people the opportunities and supports to succeed at things they couldn’t imagine they could accomplish—isn’t this what powerful youth development programs accomplish?  And in the arts, the added benefit is that young people produce a powerful connection with others, whether they know it or not.

Tommy was able to work through his fears to create something very strong and beautiful.  Now, hanging on my wall, I can look at Tommy’s work to encourage me to push through my own fears and get a difficult job done.

Thanks, Tommy, wherever you are.