ACA was bustling with creative activity on Friday nights thanks to the Creative Teen Program, offered to middle school and high school students. The class was run on a grant given to ACA by the Arlington Cultural Council, allowing the program to be run at a low cost with experienced teachers to lead the way – not to mention the incredibly talented students that came to share their artistry in our classrooms.
The structure of the program was different from most ACA classes, as there was no set curriculum. The teachers came equipped each week with a project in mind (and the materials to do so), but also came with an open mind, hoping that the students would take the initiative to come with ideas of what they wanted to create. The general principle behind the Creative Teen Program was to give students the space and the equipment to express themselves in a safe environment with facilitators there to aid in the art making and to give ideas when a student seemed stuck or unsure of what they should create. While this method could have ended in the students staring at blank pieces of paper, the program was lucky enough to have students that were determined and motivated enough to come with their creative juices flowing as soon as they stepped into the room.
The projects that were created throughout the program turned out to be incredible – some created self portraits, posters to create awareness about a cause, 3D sculptures, and graffiti-style artwork. As skills were taught to the students, they took their newfound way of art-making and used it in different ways as the weeks went on. For example, when the basics of using spray paint and creating stencils were introduced, students came in the next week with items from home (such as shoes and even furniture) that they wanted to implement their new skills on. The outcome was impressive; the students were able to use their knowledge to create projects that genuinely interested them, while still learning the many ways that you can express yourself through art.
Emily Kindschy is an intern from Lesley University.