Practical Arts Program Teaches Bronx Youth Essentials to Becoming Artists

Young artists will display their work later Thursday after participating in a new art program in The Bronx. Borough reporter Erin Clarke has the story from Port Morris.

14-year-old Jade Colon is preparing for her very first art show.

"I'm excited and nervous because this is the first time I really showed off my art," Colon said.

It's the culmination of the ten-day Practical Arts Program being run out of To Bridges, an exhibition space and workshop in The Bronx, and created by 29-year-old artist Isaac Brest.

Over the last two weeks, Colon and six other high school and college students learned different art forms, from paintings to sculptures.

The students also learned practical skills they'll need if they become professional artists, like building frames for their work, easels to paint on, and how to install a show.

Brest came up with the program after years of mentoring college graduates he found hadn't been taught the logistics of being an artist during their undergraduate studies.

These skills, in his opinion, would help them in a career where things sometimes have to be accomplished on a shoestring budget.

"There should be more educational programs geared towards young artists, young creatives before they get into the undergraduate range to be self-sufficient, to be able to produce their own projects to keep their costs low, to collaborate with each other," said Brest.

The Practical Arts Program is in its first year and is being run as a pilot in collaboration with Free Arts NYC, an arts mentoring organization with a similar mission.

"There's a lot of very talented kids in New York City and there's a lot of kids who are interested in art and studying art, and the reality is that some of the kids that we work with don't necessarily have the support system to help them navigate through that," said Liz Hopfan, the founder of Free Arts NYC.

The hope is that the Practical Arts Program will continue and help guide a new generation of successful young artists, starting with the students participating Thursday.

The students' art show is scheduled for Thursday night, 5-7 p.m.

To learn more about the exhibition space, check out www.freeartsnyc.org

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