Katherine Gressel
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Get Inspired. Get Creative. Get to Work!
2008, Latex Paint, Charcoal, and Aerosol Spray Stencils, 9’ X 30’
Collaborative youth mural for Starting Artists, Inc., 211 Smith St (Between Baltic and Butler), Brooklyn, NY
www.startingartists.org

Click here for an article about this mural!

Also visit the Starting Artists website for images of the mural process!

Get inspired. Get Creative. Get to Work! was commissioned by the startup community arts organization Starting Artists (SA), for its Brooklyn storefront space. SA is a nonprofit organization benefiting teenagers in Brooklyn, which provides hands-on training in the arts through after-school classes in media arts and entrepreneurship. The new space, located at 211 Smith Street, houses a computer lab, art gallery, and evening and Saturday programs for adults and families. The goals of the mural project were two-fold: give the new space a visual identity based on SA’s motto, “Get creative. Get inspired. Get to work!”; and engage local youth in the organization through inviting them to help create the mural. The bulk of the work took place over three day-long sessions during public school spring break in April 2008, with additional after-school and weekend sessions.

The mural’s background, designed in advance of the youth workshops, is a simplified urban montage that wraps around three back walls of the space and also greets visitors as they enter. The architectural elements and details are loosely based on specific buildings, light fixtures, parking meters and signs on Smith Street in Cobble Hill, where SA is located. The three buildings in the foreground contain billboards and signs which, instead of advertising commercial goods, proclaim SA’s motto; the building farthest right in the foreground will also contain the Starting Artists logo. The colors of these signs echo the colors of the other walls of the space directly facing the mural. The sides of the buildings were left empty for stencils to be designed by youth participants. The central “billboard” doubles as a real projection screen.

In the words of Marisa Casey, SA’s executive director, “’[at the workshops] we all brainstormed ideas about what it means to be creative and the students came up with ideas that inspired them. We gave them the tools to get to work and then they translated that into drawings and making stencil designs.” This resulted in a mural containing myriad diverse symbols of inspiration and creative work, which as a whole alludes to the impact of young people’s creativity on the urban environment. It is my hope that the project made the teen participants feel as if they have a voice and a hand in shaping their physical environment, and that the finished product will inspire all who see it in the future to “get to work” as well.