The Arts of Life Partners with After School Matters
For the third summer in a row, The Arts of Life partnered with Chicago youth development program, After School Matters (ASM), to invite a group of teenage interns to share their time and talents with the studio. Throughout July and August, six teens commuted to the studio from all over Chicago to immerse themselves in our artistic culture. Kayla, Akeem, Aliyah, and Keon were all recent high school graduates, and Victor will be starting senior year soon in CPS.
Beginning with artist-led Core Values training and ending with the Annual Summer Blow Out Sale, the teens got to experience the whole gamut of what makes us who we are--from rotations to mixing paint to dance parties. Each teen served as a studio assistant, building relationships across the studio, and working with a different pod of artists each week. The teens all found ways to bring their own interests to the artists, to really deepen their bond.
Kayla, a budding musician, supported care of materials by painstakingly cleaning and reorganizing supplies each Friday. As you can tell from their picture, she also formed a strong relationship with Walter, greeting him each day as he came into the studio and working closely with him while he painted. Akeem reliably helped artists use social media, but most loved time spent sharing music with the studio. Victor took great time and care getting to know each artist, though he most enjoyed his time with Elisha and Hubert. Keon used sketching as a way to form connections, sitting side by side with artists as they developed their work together. Aliyah brought an unbridled energy to the studio, and encouraged the artists' self-advocacy through discussion about studio policy.
Through mentoring the ASM interns, our artists also took on a deeper level of leadership in the community. They worked hard to make the teens feel welcome in our space and to include them in all aspects of studio life and to celebrate their contributions. In the cafe, during lunchtime, they had time to share their stories, and goals for the future. Pictured together, at the Blow Out Sale, the artists celebrated all the interns' hard work on their last day.
During weekly check-ins, the teens shared about the values of patience, mutual respect, and communication. They enjoyed making friends and learning to support independence and self-advocacy. Whether they are headed far away for college or plan to continue volunteering at the studio, our interns have built unshakable memories and have been present to experiences that have deepened and enriched their understanding.
Each year, opening our doors to a new set of local teens has presented us with a number of gifts and challenges. It has allowed new connections to form, but perhaps the greatest opportunity this partnership presents is to share our mission with a new generation of Chicagoans as they are just starting out on their journey.