Painting Social Change Through YOUR Definition of Art


Writing has always been a passion of mine. One day I hope to publish a memoir. One day I hope to have my own column in a newspaper and one day I hope to be an editor of a small magazine. But the writing business is a hard one to get into, and, in my opinion, to stay in as well. However, no matter how hard the business can be, I will still work towards establishing my own column, writing my own memoir, and becoming an editor of a small magazine. Writing is an art, a form of creativity, and a means of self-expression. Since a little girl, different forms of art have always had a significant impact on my life. Art is absolutely everywhere. Picasso, the Spanish painter and best-known figure in twentieth century art, showed his passion for art by experimenting with different theories, techniques and ideas. That’s the greatest thing about art: experimenting.

Not only is art a form of self-expression and experimentation, but it is also a way to bring communities together by expressing feelings and experimenting with different ideas with other people other than just oneself. The organization Artists for Humanity, a cause supported by JChoice, hosts a central apprenticeship/leadership program employing underserved Boston teens to partner them in small groups with professional artists, designers, and young artist mentors. By partnering these teens with professionals, together they can design, create, market and sell art products. The staffed studios are fully equipped, providing the necessary equipment for painting, mural design, sculpture, industrial design, screen-printing, graphic design, digital media, photography/web design, and fashion beyond design. To go with what I said earlier, art is way to join different people with different backgrounds. In this program, youth and mentors collaborate together. Though from a variety of backgrounds and ages, these young teens and professional mentors work together on a variety of projects to exhibit their similar passion for the arts.

What is so compelling about this organization is how it all originated. Susan Rodgerson, artist, teacher, and entrepreneur, felt that there was a need to address the lack of art in the Boston area public school systems. So in 1990, Rodgerson began working on a way for thirteen and fourteen year olds at an inner-city middle school to engage in creative thinking and expression through the power of the visual arts. The intention of doing so was that the youth could communicate to others and understand how their interactions with others and with art was indeed reaching out to a larger community- and in many ways, educating and empowering the people around them. No matter their socioeconomic status, passion for education or their knowledge of art itself, Rodgerson believed that every young individual deserved to have their voice heard- even if their voice was simply painted on a mural in a nearby neighborhood. Artists for Humanity began as a way to market such large-scale and collaborative paintings to Boston’s business world. But what makes these pieces of art so unique is that they reflect the voice of the youth and the vision of a diverse and culturally unified group of special teens of urban communities passionate for sharing their dream with a larger community. Rodgerson and six other dedicated supporters of the arts founded Artists for Humanity on the basis of this vision.

Artists for Humanity also tours to community groups and offers tours of their own green facility, the AFH EpiCenter, which has been voted the greenest building in Boston. The organization also offers specific art workshops for community groups throughout the year, an arts introduction and exploration program for middle school students on Saturdays, a job-training program for young people out of school, and an after hours summer programming to provide a safe haven for teens to further inspire themselves and others by acquiring educational guidance, and college preparation and readiness workshops.

As a twenty-year old and a student at Emerson College, located in Boston, Massachusetts, a school that is too a promoter of the visual arts as an effective means of communication to the greater world, I, too, value the significance of art. My form of art may be writing- but writing is only one aspect of communication. Putting together words on paper is a form of art much like splashing paint and color on canvas. Any form of art is a force towards social change. Social change is created when people are working together to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions, which ultimately can be possible through the efforts of such organizations like Artists for Humanity.

So members and supporters of the JChoice community: What is your form of art? And how will you use it to promote social change?

Want to know more about Artists for Humanity? Check out their JChoice Cause Profile:


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