On March 28, 2015, I had the pleasure to teach an art workshop with Walk of Art Kids for the South Bronx Youth Art program. The workshop was hosted by the artist, Bishop203 inside his Lowbrow Artique at 143 Central Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Jelani Buckner and Raki Barlow are the directors for WOA and are on a mission to make a difference in this world for many youngsters.
“Walk Of Art Kids is missioned with introducing art education to children from financially challenged environments in Brooklyn, NY and the Greater New York City area. Initially, we are targeting children from across Brooklyn, but more specifically from the Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, East New York, Crown Heights, Brownsville and Williamsburg neighborhoods. These are neighborhoods where the shortage of art programs in public schools are disproportionately acute and according to the ‘State of the Arts’ report released by the New York City Comptroller, “More than 42 percent of the schools that do not have state-certified arts teachers are clustered in those areas.” Our target audience that make up the majority of the population in these neighborhoods consisting of African Americans, Caribbean Americans, Hispanics and Latinos. A large percentage of the families that live in the those neighborhoods are below the poverty line and it is because of these circumstances that we feel we have a duty to put forth our best effort to make a change by offering alternative art programs. We believe that in order for our workshops to be effective and to properly engage our students that it is ideal to begin with children ranging from 12 to 15 years of age. Many of us at Walk of Art Inc., are from Brooklyn or reside in Brooklyn, which makes our efforts that much more meaningful and impactful. We must change the circumstances of our own communities first, before attempting to change the world.” — WOAKids.org
Jelani and Raki collaborated with Adam Johnson, a teacher and the organizer of the South Bronx Youth Art Program at PS224 in the Bronx. Although he is not an art teacher he is an advocate for art in public education and believes that an art curriculum should be an essential part for learning. Sadly, PS224 does not include art into their curriculum due to lack of funding by the NYC Department of Education. This is what inspired Adam to initiate the SBYA program which gives middle school students an opportunity to learn about and create art. Together, SBYA with Walk of Art and Bishop provide students with a quality art education outside of the classroom, called ‘workshops’.
“10×10” is a ten week long workshop that involves one street artist every Saturday morning to teach a group of students about different areas of artistic skills and creativity. Each artist selects their topic to share with the students and I chose to facilitate a lesson on two point linear perspective. First I gave an introduction with the history of perspective dating back to The Renaissance and discussed how it creates the illusion of depth-of-space on a flat two-dimensional surface and why perspective is important in art. We created a horizon line with two vanishing points and illustrated three cubes at a bird’s eye, eye level and worm’s eye views. After the cubes were completed, adding a light source to give the cubes some optical-weight was next. The students added light, medium and dark value tones to the cubes. It was great to see them so inspired and happy to draw and color the cubes. They now know that line creates shape and value creates form.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the class. Not only did I take pleasure with teaching perspective but I enjoyed doing it inside the environment of Lowbrow Artique. Lowbrow is a perfect place where the kids are surrounded by colors seen in the art materials, and is a gallery space that hosts graffiti and street art shows as well and during this workshop, contemporary muralist, Damien Mitchell’s fine art was on exhibit. Bishop also taught them about the aerosol cans and the different pressure caps and their functionality. He also has an impressive collection of old aerosol cans lined up on a high shelf along the wall. He gave all of us a little history lesson when he showed us the very first spray paint can made by Champion in 1949 and the first Krylon spray can from 1951. The students got the full gambit of indoor and outdoor galleries with the mural on the exterior wall of the shop.
It was a very rewarding experience I had with these talented and aspiring young teenagers who want to create art. We should all thank the dedication of people like Jelani and Raki who work on a tight budget to have supplies for each workshop; to Bishop for opening up Lowbrow for the 10×10 workshop and to Adam for caring about the youth where he teaches and his devotion to bring art to those with no access to it in their school. The world needs more people like them.