The Youth Artist Program studio (YAP) closed its doors due to the pandemic, interfering with our ability to meet in person and work collectively. YAP quickly shifted its approach to art education and continue its mission of providing quality art programming. Working closely with our teaching artists and flexing and with our alum Jean Ruíz (tech guru and parrot tamer), we learned and implemented online meeting platforms, finding flexibility in the virtual space. Understand that it’s not the same and that some students needed adequate supplies YAP created packages of materials and delivered them to the youth artists.
In June and July of 2020, the Youth Artist Program created Manga Academy, the first-ever online comic book workshop dedicated to Manga’s storytelling and international illustration style. We worked with illustrator David Izaguirre Jr., known by his artist name Izzy The Real. as an illustrator he mixes a Marvel Comic style with an Anime touch. At the end of the workshop, we published our first anthology of work, now available on our website.
YAP’s other summer offering was the Drawing Dojo, a limited in-house (and socially distanced) portfolio building workshop. Four youth artists worked on developing academic level skills in drawing. Each week we focused on a different theme, only using dry mediums like graphite, pastel, and charcoal. Youth Artists studied still life drawing, live figure drawing, anatomy, and interior drawing.
In August, our annual collaboration with the DELPHI Summer Teen Media Program (DSTMP), a filmmaking focused summer workshop that teaches teens the art of storytelling through video. Partnering with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Big Picture Alliance, and Esperanza Academy the Program provides a unique opportunity for Philadelphia students to develop filmmaking skills and push their creative boundaries.
The late summer saw a wave of international protest against racism and nationalist fascism. The death of George Floyd and others sparked outrage amongst many Americans. For the first time, American protests to protect our Black communities inspired the international community to participate in foreign countries. As a program working with at-risk youth, we felt it necessary to address these actions and allow young creatives to express their concerns and feelings in art. YAP developed the Social Justice Fashion (SJF) initiative. This Program engages graphic design principles as a vehicle to communicate messages of positive social change. Designed to feel more like an internship, we offered youth designers a small stipend for their participation. We started SJF as an in-house program; however, we transitioned into a virtual meeting space because of the alarming rise in COVID-19 infections in the last weeks.
As COVID-19 has lingered and devastated so many communities, YAP provides another space for youth to explore their experiences through art. In collaboration with Teaching artist Tony Rocco, founder and director of Photography without Borders, we developed the workshop Photo Diary; Youth in the Time of COVID. The workshop focused on training students in documentary photography techniques, compositional essentials, imaging techniques, and color. We provided cameras for the youth photographers and met on Zoom for instruction. Photography without borders hired YAP alum, Rey Sierra, to lead the sessions and provide a peer to peer perspective on the weekly assignments in our critique sessions.
2020 has, no doubt, been a challenging year socially, politically, and economically. Taller is a pillar in our creative community and works tirelessly to provide quality art education. It is essential for our human experience and cultural life. YAP is most grateful for the support it receives for its work, and are most thankful and privileged to work with all of our Youth Artists. Their creative energy and enthusiasm during this year is a light to the future of our cultural community in Philadelphia.
Youth Artists 2020
Jennifer D. Reyes
Carlo Marte – Gadson