A local non-profit is teaching essential life and job skills through a year-round artist apprenticeship program that pays teens to work on art projects around the region and matches them with artistic mentors. The program is called St. Louis ArtWorks.
“Our programs started in 1995 to provide arts education and job training for teens,” said Priscilla Block, the executive director of the nonprofit. “They learn how to improve communication skills by greeting guests to explain what they’re working on, how to make different things in different disciplines and they learn the business side of art. They work with a client to complete a commission on time and they make individual works of art.”
The program also includes life skill training in fiscal literacy, health and other skills that will benefit youth as they look for the next opportunities.
Byron Rogers is a teaching artist in the program, working hands-on with teens to teach artistic skills such as lines and composition. Right now, he supervises a group that is working on a mural about historic entertainers, like Tina Turner and Cab Calloway, who had their origins in the Vandeventer neighborhood surrounding Turner Park, at the intersection of Sarah St.and Belle Pl.
“Our job was to come up with ideas that would fit the community,” Rogers said, and apprentices go through the process of client meetings, creating client sketches and seeking community feedback.
Jasmyne Diggs and Ariyanna Johnson are two apprentices currently in the program. Diggs is currently working on the mural project. Johnson has been with the program for two and a half years and is currently working on a project related to the Missouri River watershed.
This Friday, St. Louis ArtWorks apprentices will sell their artwork and celebrate all they have accomplished so far at the ArtWorks building on Delmar Boulevard. You can find more information on that event here.
“I feel art gives you those skills to see things, to have an open mind, patience,” Rogers said. “Today, we live in a world that everything has to be fast-paced, it has to be done right now. Art slows things down. It gives art and math skills, they have to learn how to frame and matte their paintings. They have to learn about color. We go in deep that art is not just about painting pictures, it is about learning life-long skills.”
What: St. Louis ArtWorks Celebration and Summer Sale
When: Friday, July 21 from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Where: St. Louis ArtWorks, 5959 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63112
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