Bushwick Open Studios has established itself as one of the biggest contemporary art events in New York. And this year, it’s adding some even fresher, younger artists to its roster.
Five area high school students will be showcasing their work alongside more established artists during Open Studios, which takes place June 5-7, as part of the Arts in Bushwick High School Fellows Program. The program, a partnership with Blick Art Supplies, pairs neighborhood teens — many of whom don’t receive any art instruction in their schools — with mentors to help nurture and cultivate their talents.
“The Open Studio festival draws a lot of attention to the artist community in Bushwick,” says program lead and art therapist Lauren Smith. “But what was missing was an emphasis on the great potential of young artists, the students, who are doing amazing work in the neighborhood, too.” AiB selects students, nominated by teachers and community centers, who not only show an aptitude for art, but who also demonstrate leadership, and the program not only offers them hands-on art practice, but also holds workshops on creating an identity on social media, curating an exhibition and public speaking. "It's a way to give back to the community," says Smith.
“I’m normally really anti-social, but this has really helped me express myself and engage with people and artists from all over,” says Esmeralda Figueroa, a junior at Bushwick’s Academy of Urban Planning. “I don’t have art in my school anymore, so this is my outlet.”
Figueroa, who is currently working on her college-application portfolio, still wasn’t sure what she would show when we spoke last Tuesday. “I’m creating a painting now for Friday,” she said over the phone. “I’m not sure exactly the idea yet, but it has to do with my personality — I want to show more of me in my painting.”
AiB High School Fellows Group Show runs now through June 7 at Express Yourself Barista Bar (82 Central Ave., Brooklyn).
Raquel is an editor at Metro. Follow her on Twitter @RaquelLaneri.