“Art is magical”: The kids of Campbell Street

As we start the last week of this program, there’s a lot to reflect on. We have a lot of finished murals to show you and some closing reflections on the program as a whole. But first, we want to take a few minutes to share an important part of the last few weeks – the kids we’ve been interacting with at the Campbell Street R-Center.

As a team coming into Campbell Street, we were keenly aware that this was not our space, but theirs. It was very important to us  that we make sure the kids felt and were included in the whole process  from beginning to end, and that they have some input regarding what was going on their walls. Before we started the mural, we came in and met with the kids.  Maribel and Kasim shared what they’ve been working on at Roc Paint Division so far, and then led several group art activities to get to know the kids, and to get them thinking about the idea of growth and how that might look when translated to a giant painting. Many of the kids were excited to contribute, and lead artist Brittany Williams referenced the drawings these kids came up with as she developed the sketch for the mural.

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Once we started painting at Campbell Street, we wanted to keep the kids involved. Each time we worked, a members of our team were assigned the task of running art activities with the Campbell Street kids. The butterfly project was the main one:  Butterflies play a prominent theme in the mural design both inside and and outside at the center, so the kids were invited to paint butterflies of their own- which were then hung inside to go along with the mural. Check out the final installation below:

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The kids were really excited about the idea about painting on the wall and would have loved to help us out – so we gave the kids the chance to paint on a larger scale, just like our teens. Dezmir, who was often the kids ‘art project lead and who impressed them regularly with his drawing skills, made some growth-themed drawings on panels that the kids then got to go in and paint.

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The documentation part of the process was just as exciting to these guys. Program photographer Lisa regularly allowed the kids to experiment with the camera, and the kids loved getting to see the project through the lens themselves.

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We’ve loved getting the chance to hang with the kids of Campbell Street over these last few weeks- its been an honor to get to paint in their space, and their enthusiasm for our project and to see the end result has been motivating. “Art is magical,” said Alex, age 9, when asked what he liked about the project. Lots of the kids said  how much they liked meeting the teen artists, and shared that they hoped to be able to be part of the program themselves once they are old enough. For Dezmir, working with them was one of his favorite parts of the program so far. As he said, “The thing I like about working with the kids is that they have no perception of what its supposed to be like, just imagination. And they just love doing it.”

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Campbell Street progress + meet our guest artists, part 1!

It is hard to believe that the 2016 Roc Paint Division crew is in its final weeks of working together — next week is the last week! So much has been happening and we have a lot to share, so we’ll be posting a bit more frequently as the program begins to wrap up to try to cover everything. For example, check back tomorrow for a look at our visit with the mayor and the commissioner yesterday, as well as some more progress shots!

During these last few weeks of working on-site at the R-Centers, we’ve been fortunate to have the help of two wonderful and talented guest artists, Brittany Williams and Rachel Farley. Its really been special having them join our team- such a great fit! Last week, regular blog contributors Dezmir, Kasim, and Lisa sat down with them to find out a little more about the experience from their perspective. Today we are featuring Brittany; we’ll be featuring Rachel AND her completed mural next.

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Introducing Brittany Williams: 

 

“I’ve loved working with the teens of Roc Paint Division. Its  a lot of fun- my first time doing a collaboration like this, except for the Seedfolk mural  that I helped with last summer.Its a great tool for everybody to learn about teamwork, where communication is the key. Its really cool having kids asking questions about how to do or paint certain things and being in a position to tell them things– working with kids who want to do something like you.

The weather can always be one of the hardest parts, especially in summer. Even painting inside- when the room get really warm, it just makes it hard to keep working- it  makes you want to take a break! But when you’re focused on what you’re doing  and you love it, you don’t really worry as much about the conditions around you.

After meeting initially with Sarah and Justin about the project, we started out by working with the kids at the center and having them do sketches about what they would want to see on their walls. I took what they had and looked at what worked, what didn’t work, both on my own and with the teens and staff from Roc Paint Division. The common theme as far as what most of the kids wanted to see was basketball- its a huge part of their lives. So my goal was to make basketball a main part of the subject, and to have it tie in with the project’s overall theme of growth. The kids that are here, they’re great- and they give great feedback. They’ll be like “Oooh, that looks like him!”

Its been special for me, as both a basketball player and an artist. I grew up going to the Boys and Girls Club a lot and never saw anything like this- a mural on the inside of a building.  I think art and sports is a great combination, and one that often gets overlooked. Athletes need creativity and inspiration too. For it to be able to have a positive message for them is so important and it really does fit the growth theme-  basketball is a mechanism for growth for a lot of people; I know it was for me. ” campbellguestartists-4

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Brittany’s most recent mural, in Berlin as part of Wall Therapy & Urban Nation’s “Believe/Become” collaborative exchange. 

Meanwhile! The mural crews have been working really hard at Campbell Street- both the outside and inside teams plan to finish up this week. Check out some of their progress below.

 

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Also last week at Campbell Street, the staff and kids were working on getting their garden planted. Jarvis, Kasim, and Lisa work as urban farmers over at Seedfolk City Farm when they are not painting murals, so a few of them took some time  to change it up and get their hands dirty with soil instead of paint, and share their gardening expertise.

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