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Recap of ARTE at the 2020 Brooklyn Youth Arts Expo!

Written by: Cecilia Innis, Team ARTE

On February 7, 2020, Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE), in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, the Brooklyn Public Library, and Bailey’s Cafe, coordinated the 2020 Brooklyn Youth Arts Expo. This special event brought together several organizations across NYC whose work encourages, among youth and adults alike, a passion for the arts.

Aside from organizing to make this event a success, ARTE served the Brooklyn Youth Arts expo in two main capacities: informing visitors about ARTE’s work and conducting a human rights, arts-based workshop. Regarding spreading information, ARTE Program Coordinator Lamar and interns Cecilia and Jordan greeted the expo’s visitors at a table of arts and crafts materials. When people would approach (mostly teens and children), we would ask them to create an image that embodied the question—with paper, magazine cutouts, stickers, and markers—what does justice look like to you? One participant, 11 years old, saw justice as equality for other black girls like her which her collage of black figures represented. Another participant, six years old, equated justice with freedom and strength which she showed in her art by writing phrases such as “Rosa Parks is free!” and “I am free!” as well as by gluing down a picture of the Hulk. At the same time, parents inquired about what ARTE was all about. To this, in sum, interns shared that it is an organization dedicated to infusing the arts with human rights targeted specifically towards youth in high schools and jails.

Interns Jordan and Anamica set up ARTE’s collaging table.

A 6 year-old participant captures what justice means to her.

Additionally, ARTE’s founder, Marissa, and interns, Katie and Anamíca conducted an arts workshop. The workshop began by showing participants sample murals that pertain to human rights such as ARTE’s own “Prison is a Feminist Issue”. The group observed several examples of these murals, discussed the different ways they viewed each piece and explored how art plays an integral role in discourse around human rights. Katie, an ARTE intern, who facilitated this workshop, commented that the discussion revealed “how [art] is a form of self and group expression and how there can be various interpretations and reactions to a single piece of work.” After these observations, the group began to make sculptural representations of a chosen mural. Katie noted that it was really fun to watch kids get so involved and that she appreciated getting to see art as an accessible activity in which anyone can participate.

Ultimately, the Brooklyn Youth Arts Expo was an incredible opportunity for educational and art-centered organizations to congregate and provide a space for young people to get involved in the community. For ARTE, specifically, it emphasized how people can not only come together to make art, but also how their art can reflect the pressing social issues around us.

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