Recently TM strategist Jessie McGuire and I attended an opening/cocktail party at the Rockefeller Center galleries of Christie’s to see art and meet artists. But it was hardly the sort of affair one typically associates with a fancy Midtown auction house. For what we saw on the walls were works of art by more than 250 students, Pre-K through 12th grade, from nearly 80 New York public schools, daycare centers and community organizations.
The event was the 2016 edition of Studio in a School’s annual Young Visions exhibition. Studio is a New York-based non-profit that focuses exclusively on the visual arts. It was founded in the late 1970s in response to the drastic cuts made to the city budget for arts education in the pubic school system. The organization funds programs that partner working artists with educators to instruct kids in how to make art. Each year more than 30,000 students participate, about 90% of whom are from low-income homes. The plain fact is, with the education budget still squeezed, without Studio in a School most of them never would even have the chance to try art, let alone consider pursuing a career in it.
Most important, though, is how good the art was, and how these young creatives had seized the opportunity Studio afforded them to make interesting, fun and often beautiful, accomplished work well beyond their years. Just as great is how terrific the artist-kids themselves were. We met and talked to a bunch of them, often in the company of their beaming parents. (And here and there a younger sibling who’d come along for the ride and clearly couldn’t wait to get out of there fast enough!) What impressed us across the board was how much they all loved art, how proud they were of their accomplishment, and the older they were, what they said they wanted to do next with their art skills.
One such budding artist we chatted up was standing by a gorgeous drawing of hers. She was about to graduate from high school and this fall will begin a four-year program at a prestigious art school. We liked her so much, in fact, that the following week we invited her to the studio, interviewed her, and subsequently hired her as a summer intern. Not only does she fit right in; she is a constant reminder of how bright a future the visual arts have just as long as young talent is given the chance it deserves.