Friday, March 27, 2009

Nintendo-pony up!

Mail Art Monster

Have you turned in your mail art? Get it in NOW so you can be part of the April 2nd show for our 2009 Annual Campaign. Big thanks longtime artist mentor and volunteer Kedrin Frias for the awesome box.


We went on a field trip yesterday to see New Urban Arts Alum Adrienne Adeyemi's show at Clark University. Three cars, two mentors, three staff and nine students! And the Banks Brigade was born. But that's another story....

The pictures are beautiful (you can see some of them here), but it was her approach to using low-tech holga cameras and making art with her cousins that really touched me. That as individually talented and driven she is, her creative practice requires community, connection and collaboration:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Revenge Of The Mentors

Janelly wreaks havoc upon the mentors (and Erik), only to get a taste of her own medicine.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Talking about Hard Things

March 25: On Talking about Hard Things
A Conversation with Jane Androski, artist mentor at New Urban Arts who is assistant director of Difficult Dialogues at Clark University.

This conversation will focus on the idea of Dialogue as Creative Practice. Jane will share the ways that dialogue is a thread that weaves through the (seemingly disparate) areas of her work – i.e. the role that dialogue plays in her my life as a designer, in her work with the Difficult Dialogues program at Clark (that's the "talking about hard things" part!), as well as how she sees dialogue in her work at New Urban Arts. This will be a participatory conversation, so come prepared to have a dialogue about dialogue!

Wednesday March 25, 6PM
New Urban Arts
743 Westminster Street
Providence RI 02903

A Sense of Belonging

Opening Thursday from 5-7pm. The event will be held in the gallery on the second floor of Dana Commons (see map:

A Sense of Belonging: A Photographic Journey through Nigeria is the culmination of Adrienne's trip to Nigeria in the summer of 2008 (she won a very competitive fellowship from Clark in order to go). You can see the full description of the event on their website:

There will be refreshments too, as well as music/sounds from Nigeria – recorded during Adrienne's trip.


Take Route 146 North into Worcester until it ends (at a set of traffic lights), immediately after the exit for RTE290. At this intersection, take a left onto Cambridge Street. Proceed on Cambridge street for roughly 1 1/2 miles, through 3 traffic lights. At fourth light take a sharp right onto Main Street. Go to the first traffic light at Maywood Street. Take a left onto Maywood Street and proceed to the next stop sign, which brings you to the corner of Maywood and Florence. Our building, Dana Commons, is located on this corner (to your right). The entrance to the building is around the other side (facing into campus).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tamara on Creative Pratice

Tamara Kaplan is currently our Operations Manager, she is our former Program Director and has played probably every imaginable role here at New Urban Arts. Here are her thoughts on creativity.

First, toddlers scribble and color. They spin in circles with their arms stretched out. They sing to themselves out loud with conviction. They draw stick lines and fill in shapes with color. They make rainbows stretch over flat houses with red chimneys. They draw families holding hands while they stand in front yards.

In moments when young people become more aware of the world around them, of people who might judge them, these drawings, personal and risky by their nature, are lined up next to one another. Teachers and students compare and criticize, perhaps without intention, deciding who can draw more realistically. In these moments, they decide who is creative and who is not.

Inspiring the Imaginer in All of Us: A Framework for a Sustainable Creative Practice
by Tyler Denmead

There is a great children's book called The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It is about this young girl who thinks she can't draw. Her art teacher asks her to make a dot on a piece of paper. After some examination she asks the young girl to sign it. When the young girl came into the class the next day, she saw her dot in a gilded gold frame above her teachers desk. To herself, the girl thinks, "I can make a better looking dot." And she makes more. After experimenting with big dots, little dots, and different colored dots, the young girl had an exhibition of her work at school. A little boy came up to her and said, "you are a great artist, I can't even draw a straight line." She gave him a piece of paper and said "show me." Once he was finished, he showed her the wavy line he drew. And the young girl said, "sign it."

To me, little kids have an inherent way of exploring life without "grown-up" rules inhibiting their imagination. Once we as adults put constraints around imagining possibilities, creativity can be stifled. Now, don't get me wrong...I am not saying that we need to make art everyday for kids to have imaginations or not making art will make kids not have an imagination. As a mom and educator, it just makes me nervous, when the word "talented" gets thrown around. The pedestal we can put our children on or not on could set a child up for failure.

What always excites me at New Urban Arts, is this non-judgmental lens in which we look at how art is made. It is about a process we go through. We may never get to a "finished" product but imagine what we are learning along the way. I always reflect on my high school art experience, where my teacher would have us paint or draw from wildlife books. If we could not get a line or color "perfect" he would take our brush or pencil and finish our work for us. I got A's, but did I really learn anything? Sure. I always learn in every situation, good or bad. I believed that there were different ways of teaching and learning. I believed that if I worked with young people, I would engage them in the exploration of seeing, making, and doing. It had nothing to do with the finished product but how one truly sees the world.

As I sit at my desk daily, I look up to see a great quote by Deborah Meier. "Democracy demands that we acknowledge everyone's inalienable capacity to be an inventor, dreamer, and a theorist--to count in the larger scheme of things." Just dream of a world of possibilities, where people can explore at any age the world of creativity. A world were we celebrate each line and dot, whatever shape it might be.

This morning, my 3 and a half year old daughter handed me a plastic photo sleeve. She told me it was a "blopert." I said, "that's cool."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Passin' the Hat...

Hats On!
Join the New Urban Arts Board of Directors and a diverse community of supporters for an evening of music, food and fun while helping support after school arts programming for Providence public high school students. Wear your favorite hat or one of ours!

•Support our nationally recognized arts mentoring programs
•Meet some of our young artists and Artist Mentors
•Show off your own creativity with a hat you wear or make that night – you could even win an award
•Join in recognizing those who have demonstrated unwavering commitment to New Urban Arts
•See your friends, meet some new ones and have fun!

Join us Thursday, April 2, 2009, 7 pm
743 Westminster Street
Providence Rhode Island

Wine, beer and tasty treats will be served

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Creative Practice Through The Eyes Of An Alumni Student

One of our alumni students ('08), Rebecca Volynsky, was selected as as an Honored Artist by the Women's Resource Center at Boston University. Her work is on display at 775 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston throughout the month of March 2009.

Read the artist statement below in which Rebecca describes her creative practice and how it connects to her experience with New Urban Arts. To view her artwork visit,

"The fulfillment after creating something with my own two hands is what fuels me to make artwork. The process is more about taking advantage of a variety of media (everything from screen prints to image transfers of passages from novels and poems) without even knowing what I want the final piece to exactly look like. This dissolves the pressure of creating something that solely aesthetically pleases the viewer, but eventually results in a balance of weight, energy, and personal meaning.

New Urban Arts, a non-profit studio space in Providence, Rhode Island, that provides after-school mentor programs for local students and emerging artists, gave me a space to begin my creative practice. Whenever I walked into the studio, I was practically punched in the stomach with creative energy. There are students with various levels of artistic experience, and who come from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. I am strongly interested in social change, and what we can do to break the barriers between each other in order to be content and fully accepting individuals. In addition, each and every single student goes to this space to simply create.

This is what inspired me to become an artist, to come to Boston University and study graphic design and printmaking, and pursue my eventual goal of establishing a similar studio space like New Urban Arts. This is why I continue to make, because the act of creating something with my own two hands is quite possibly the most fulfilling aspect of producing artwork. I am able to give myself a voice through my art, and hope that tunnels right into the viewer and inspires them to do the same.

Creating has become a necessary aspect of my personal growth, as both an artist and a person. In fact, the word create emerges from the Latin word, creatus. This is akin to crescere, which literally means to grow. In order to grow anything, it is necessary to preserve, prune, uproot, reseed and rotate “plants”. In our daily lives, these are the conflicts, difficult situations, and challenges that must be dealt with. By accepting such issues, and what is- rather than what is not, I have been able to change, transform, nurture myself, and therefore- grow. The themes of growth, change, and the female voice are particularly evident within my work. I tend to use images of female figures, body parts, birds- all of which transform and emerge from one portion to the other, inevitably conveying symbolic elements of growth."

A message from Adrienne

Hello all!

This exhibition of photographs and audio by me, a 2008 Steinbrecher
Fellow, is the culmination of my journey to Nigeria, in the Summer of

The opening reception is on Thursday, March 26th from 5-7pm at

Commons 2nd Floor
Clark University
950 Main Street
Worcester MA 01610

All are invited to come, see art, and enjoy refreshments and conversation.
This event is free and open to the public.

The exhibition will end Sunday May 17th.

Also feel free to check out my blog

Conversations on Creative Practice Kicks Off!

Tomorrow inaugurates this years Conversations on Creative Practice Series. Stop by New Urban Arts from 6-8pm for some snacks and a chat with Arley-Rose Torsone- Artistic Director of Design Providence.

Arley-Rose Torsone wants to make the world a better place through graphic design. Although her pieces may not be Nobel Peace Prize Winners themselves, however, she believes that her graphics are small steps towards a greater good. With a firm belief that "A wise person makes more opportunities than they find," she is thoroughly invested in her work at AS220 as the in-house graphic designer and manager of the Design Providence Cottage Industry, where she also teaches design classes to the amazing young people of Broad Street Studio. Since her graduation from Parsons the New School for Design and moving to Providence in 2004, she has dedicated her professional career to designing for causes which have socially-responsible roots and sustainable practices. She believes that "good design is not just about profit or beauty, but creating social value" (Patrick Butler).

A.R.T. is also very lucky to work amongst - and therefore be inspired by - other innovative Cottage Industries at AS220, such as the Community Printshop, Labs and Darkroom, while receiving the guidance and support from AS220's All-Star Admins! Since her introduction to letterpress and silkscreen, she takes every opportunity she can to output her work in "the good ol' fashioned way." Waste, toxins, and choice of materials are all factors when she gives birth to a piece and considers the environmental impact that her pieces generate. (She always enjoys seeing posters around town printed on old AS220 calendars). She also loves hanging out with hot air balloonists, typographers, special collections librarians and offset printers who are total curmudgeons.

*New Urban Arts Series: Conversations on Creative Practice is made possible through generous support of The Rhode Island Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. This event is organized by New Urban Arts Mentoring Fellows, Andrew Oesch and Peter Hocking. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Giant Robot (in progress)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Now collecting Sandra Olson Award Nominations!

I'm receiving Sandra Olson award nominations in my e-mail inbox and I love reading them.

A little background on what they are:

When I was a student at RISD, I never thought I would be doing non-profit managament, fundraising or a lot of the stuff I've done over the course of my (still in-progress) career as a non-profit executive.

I just wanted to make art, hang out with young people and hopefully in that messy, exploratory process, help some young people find their own creative voices.

Unfortunately, our society doesn't support/appreciate those kinds of activities near the levels it should. So my professional life has taken on a drastically different path to try to change that.

Fundraising and the idea of charity and the unequal power dynamics tied up in that word always made me uncomfortable. But reading Kim Klein helped me get through that. I've always felt she approaches fundraising as a form of community organizing, as a way to mobilize a community to make change for itself, as a mutually beneficial transaction between equals.

Our Annual Campaign exemplifies this. It's a 12-month campaign made up of gifts from individual and businesses that range from as small as $25 to as large as over $5,000. It's grown steadily in our 11 plus-year history and now supports close to a third of our annual operating costs. Some of the costs are sexy, but some of are not. (Does anyone out there want the naming rights for our electric bill?).

This is everything from rent, to art supplies to the utilities bills, all the things we need year in and year out to enroll 150 Providence teens, 20 plus artists and run public exhibitions, performances and events that reach over 2,600 attendees. That's not to mention the countless alumni students and mentors who keep in touch with us and continue to contribute volunteer hours and are now doing amazing things in the world.

A big part of our Annual Campaign event is the Sandra Olson Awards. It honors Sandra Olson, a woman who once mailed New Urban Arts a $2 check each week over the course of two years. Her gifts totaled over $250.

We are now collecting Sandra Olson award nominations.

New Urban Arts introduced this annual award in 2002 to recognize individuals and organizations who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to New Urban Arts. Board members, staff, artist mentors and students can nominate candidates.... people who share extraordinarycontributions of time, expertise, money, energy or support - often without solicitation, going beyond what is askedof them in support of New Urban Arts and its mission.
New Urban Arts has grouped the candidates as follows:

1. Individual volunteer: Board members, volunteers, consultants, etc.

2. Organization & Business: Corporation, small business, foundation, community-based organization

3. Full-time staff, artist mentor, student, alumni

Each year, New Urban Arts gives a Sandra Olson Award to one individual or organization in each category. Under special circumstances as determined by the review panel, more than one Sandra Olson Awards in each category may be given.Awards will be given at the Annual Campaign Event, April 2.

Sandra Olson Award Nominations are due Monday March 23rd to

jason AT newurbanarts DOT org

How do I nominate a candidate for a Sandra Olson Award?

Please submit the following:·

  • Name and category (see above) for the candidate you are nominating;
  • Your name;
  • The reasons why you are nominating this candidate;
  • Additional information that the review panel should know

Who are past winners of the Sandra Olson Awards?

2002 - Peter Hocking, Jephry Floral Studio, Marly Louis, Echoing Green Foundation
2003 – Kathleen Connolly, Jason Yoon, Gasbarro’s Wines
2004– Michael Fournier, Kedrin Frias, Jennifer Rice, Cornish Associates
2004 – Jesse Banks III, White Electric, Craftland
2006 – Priscilla Carrion, White Whale Web Services, Tamara Kaplan, Judy Vilmain
2007- John Tabor Jacobson, Mary Adewusi, Esther Chak, Simon Moore, Jack Richter
2008 - Sarah Meyer, Myrth York, Aneudy Alba, Andrew Oesch