Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Conversations in Creative Practice: On Books and Prints

April 29: On Books and Prints
A Conversation with Shea'la Finch of Tiny Showcase, Deb Dormody of If 'N Books + Marks and Jen Corace, local artist and freelance illustrator.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mail Art Closing Reception


My name is Kedrin Frias, and I am an alumni student/veteran mentor of the studio. This spring I worked with NUA to reconnect with our past, stay connected with our present, and inspire future connections.

I tried to do this is by giving a new face to one of our annual projects, our Mail Art/Correspondence Project. This time around, we tried to involve family members from all different moments in our studio history. We wanted this year's project to be a testimony to the beautiful impact that New Urban Arts has had in many lives over the years. Participants created small works of art on wooden tiles. The tiles are now organized and on exhibit in our gallery.

Please join us for the Mail Art Exhibit, eat some munchies, and if you want to submit a tile to the exhibition, come and make one at our Mail Art Station.

This is a time to relax and discuss this year's Mail Art project, and the amazing artwork that has resulted.

All are invited... and remember, it's not too late to make a tile...

Thank you for participating,


Friday, April 24th at 6PM
New Urban Arts
743 Westminster Street
Providence Rhode Island

Monday, April 20, 2009

2009 Lock In !!!

Another wild night of artmaking. Some of the remains...

No sleeping!

1st RULE: You do not talk about LOCK IN (just kidding).

Zombie workshop with Kevin and Rosalia.

Built a tree house.

Pin the salsa on the Jason

I wonder if the person who drew this knew I actually wore a costume like this...

(2006 West Coast Salsa Congress)

And some breadmaking with Jean. Check out her blog for more pics.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We All Need to Play

We All Need to Play: Wednesday April 15, 2009 From 6:00pm-8:00pm, Conversations on Creative Practice Series Welcomes Kath Connolly, Laurencia Strauss and Sarah Bernstein From The Learning Community Please join us Wednesday April 15 from 6-8pm for a Conversation with Laurencia Strauss (designer), Sarah Bernstein (facilitator), and Kath Connolly (administrator), about building a new playground at The Learning Community, a public elementary charter school in Central Falls, Rhode Island where a fourth grader’s letter inspired Lowe’s to fund a new outdoor play space.

How can artists navigate many voices and ideas?

What are the tensions when a guest designer enters a highly regulated public place?

What does it take to listen to and reflect a community that might not be your own?

How do we cultivate play as a central part of our creative lives?

How can schools be centers of creativity for everyone?

This Conversation shares one example of a community-based, collaborative design process in an urban neighborhood. Learn about the charter school and its unique mission, their approach to recess, and the process the school community used to create an outdoor place for imagination. Hear reflections from:

Sarah Bernstein, an educator who believes that supporting the social and emotional development of young people is crucial to their success. Since 2006, Sarah has worked at The Learning Community leading projects related to non-academic time. Sarah has a background in Out of School Time programming, and holds a teaching certificate in Secondary Social Studies from Brown University.

Kath Connolly, the Director of Partnerships at The Learning Community who is interested in public education as a civil right and in the development of creative communities. Kath was a founding board member of New Urban Arts and has held various positions in education and community work in Rhode Island over the past 20 years.

Laurencia Strauss, an artist and designer whose work focuses on negotiation of social and ecological issues. In addition to her own studio and public work, she is on the faculty at the Boston Architectural College. Laurencia holds degrees in Sculpture from California College of the Arts and in Landscape Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Conversations are located at 743 Westminster Street and are free and open to the public.

New Urban Arts Series: Conversations on Creative Practice is a series in which unique individuals share how they integrate creativity into their personal and professional lives and 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 Fellows, Andrew Oesch and Peter Hocking.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Story of Bridgette and the Long Red Stripe, as told by her mentor, Zachary Clark

Hi, my name’s Zack Clark and I’m a first-year mentor here at New Urban Arts. Technically, I’m the painting mentor, but my most recent project with students (and fellow mentors David and Caitlin) is the front window garden installation, which doesn’t really look like a painting at all. The paint’s there, though, if you look closely. So, I guess I’m fairly legitimate in my title here.

I have to be honest – I feel really aware of myself in a way that I’m not used to feeling in this space.

I walked into New Urban Arts for the first time last August with a similar anxiousness, not really knowing what to expect. Or maybe I was expecting something. I might have imagined small tables of students working quietly and diligently, guided expertly by a skilled sculptor or designer. Control and order and production. I guess that’s what I expected.

But it wasn’t what was there.

Instead, I walked in to voices and paper clippings and lights covered in tissue paper. A lot of spilled glitter and ripped cardboard. There were no small tables or well-ordered groups. There was a floor covered in scraps and a ship half-constructed, straddling two folding chairs. I remember envelopes tacked to the walls and people sprawled on the floor. Drawing, planning and talking. And I remember not immediately being able to differentiate the mentors from the students, which was disorienting. But it felt like things were happening here. That this entire place was a happening. And I instantly and sincerely wanted to belong.

I was lucky enough to be invited into this space that fall. I was awkward and thrilled and anxious each time I walked through the door during those first weeks. I didn’t exactly know how to navigate this space, or how to contribute to it in a way that would cultivate the kind of messy creativity that I had admired a few months earlier. I really just wanted to do it right – to be a good mentor, a fun mentor – to find the right projects and say the right words. I really wanted to engage in that way.

And I felt like I was hitting my stride a little after the first month. I thought, okay – I’ve got this project that we’re all pretty on-board with, painting paper bricks to make a collaborative wall installation. The students seem into it, I seem like I have some semblance of control and authority. I felt like what I had imagined a mentor should feel like – but at the same time, I couldn’t shake loose this anxiety, this distance that existed as a result of my uncertainty. I was still trying, still really overly aware, and because of that I think I felt a little far away.

One day in November a new student came to my table, which had been abandoned at this point. Bridgette wanted to paint a brick. So I happily provided a blank paper and laid out the paints.
Go for it, I said.

And a half-hour later, I was sincere in my enthusiasm. She had painted this mirror-image of a tree contained in colored boxes. Despite her claims, her many, many claims, I thought it was great. It was great. I wanted her to really understand, too. To know what made it such a successful piece.

I showed her, gesticulating and praising and being loud and happy. I raised my hands wildly to express my excitement, to demonstrate the strength of that stroke on the paper. Basically, I was all over the place in my fervor.

I don’t really know what made me forget that the brush was still in my hand. But it was, and covered – dripping – with red paint. So in my demonstrative excitement, Bridgette acquired a long crimson stripe, dashing across the sleeve of her white – what seemed like blindingly white at the time – shirt.

So in the next ten minutes of my frenzied attempt to wash out the stain at the sink, I had some time to ponder some important issues. Like, who knew the line would bleed into a large pink semicircle so quickly? Or, I wonder what New Urban Arts policies are regarding shirt reimbursement? Or, as my panic grew, where might they keep the baking soda?

But most of all, looking back, I remember feeling pretty disappointed with myself. I felt like despite all of my efforts to assert control and maintain confidence in my role as a mentor, here I was in my relentless apologetic babbling, not knowing what I should do next. I felt vulnerable, like I had made this glaring red mistake – a mark of my incompetence staring back at me from Bridgette’s sleeve. There was this moment while I was washing out the misguided brush after she left, when I felt, oh well, there goes that student.

Only, it wasn’t like that. Because Bridgette did come back. She wasn’t wearing a white shirt, maybe intentionally, but there she was, at that same table the very next week. Painting another brick, and more after that.

And I got it then – not in a moment of immediate realization, but instead over an extended period of increasing understanding – that this little mistake was exactly what New Urban Arts is all about. It wasn’t an indication of my inadequacy, but a messy, funny point of access for us to get to know each other in this space, with these materials. What I thought would invalidate my role really only made me more accessible to the individuals around me. It was an equalizer, shortening the distance that separated us.

It transformed us from mentor and student to collaborators.
And, maybe most importantly, it became a story. I don’t think New Urban Arts ever really wanted or needed me to be the type of mentor that could avoid accidentally painting on a student. Knowing all of the answers in this way won’t support what the program is all about. All this space really asks of you is to be present with one another, open to talking and learning and joking and mistaking together. And in our collective presence, a community emerges through which relationships are established, challenges are confronted and art is made. I feel really lucky to be able to contribute my presence to this kind of space.

And in case your interested, I was told the spot came out. So all’s well that ends well.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mail Art Sneak Peek