Each week, we will interview members of The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 6 to learn more about the apprentices, their journey as artists and their aspirations
Name: Crystal Gonzalez
Joined Cre8tiveYouTH*ink: 2010
Crystal Gonzalez became one of the founding members of Cre8tiveYouTH*ink while a senior at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. She has since worked her way up to the position of crew chief for The Art School Without Walls Vol. 6 and is currently studying multimedia arts and design at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Due to her growing interest in photography, Gonzalez is documenting the progress of “Sign Language” for a class this semester in addition to painting the mural.
Why were you interested in being a project leader?
There should be more people like us who welcome young artists and teach them about different art forms. I didn’t have that because I grew up in the projects. I wasn’t able to hang out with these people so I basically raised myself in the arts as a kid.
What are your thoughts on the mural’s title, “Sign Language?”
I think the way they used “Sign Language” makes sense because sign language is meant for people who can’t speak and a painting can’t talk either. But both utilize a different language that has no sound at all.
What have you learned from working on this specific project?
I’ve been looking at a lot of photography since this project started. I would like to do what Martha Cooper has done with “Street Play.” I see the kids in my neighborhood and I think, “I wish I could document their every move.”
One of my goals is to travel, not for the beautiful scenes but for the views inside of things that are kind of sad. It would be cool to document something heartbreaking, like a run-down building or city, and record it as it transforms into something happy.
Do you plan on staying involved with future Cre8tiveYouTH*ink projects ?
Yeah, yeah most definitely until the very end. I hope this grows bigger and that we get our own studio–don’t want to let the old man [Mista Oh!] down at all!
What advice would you give a young aspiring artist?
Don’t give up. Do things for yourself, things that will make you a better person.
Name: Andrew Fraser-Humphrey
Joined Cre8tiveYouTH*ink: 2010
Andrew Fraser-Humphrey became an enthusiastic Cre8tiveYouTH*ink member during his senior year at Brooklyn Technical High School. He has since become a passionate painter, often waxing poetic about the potential of art. He almost continued with his tech studies into college but decided to take a chance on his dreams and enrolled as a music major at Hunter College instead. Now in his junior year in the program, Fraser-Humphrey plays bass for “Dolphins Safe Tuna,” a group he co-founded with his college classmates, and paints with Cre8tiveYouTH*ink during his free time.
Do you see connection between visual art and music?
It’s really interesting because when I play music it’s similar to when I am painting with the Cre8tiveYouTH*ink team in a way; I play jazz and the improvisational element of jazz brings out my creativity with a group. It’s really great because we end up with various people giving various takes on how they feel about the same thing. It’s a way of exporting your own life experiences, taking yourself out of yourself, and seeing it on a wall or hearing it in a sound.
What do you like about this mural?
It’s a great way to show off Brooklyn spirit and it’ll be a great centerpiece for Downtown Brooklyn which has changed a lot over the years and really does have more of an artsy look to it now.
Any advice for younger artists?
More than anything you owe it to yourself to attempt to immerse yourself in what you want to do rather than toss it aside and say its impossible. Give it your best effort and try at least once.
Name: Mark Gonsalvez
Age: 22 1/2
Joined Cre*tiveYouTH*ink: 2010
Mark Gonsalvez joined Cre8tiveYouTH*ink the summer after he graduated from Brooklyn High School of the Arts. He was most excited about joining a group of emerging artists trying to “make it” in New York City. He currently studies graphic design and illustration at Pratt Institute and is interested in pursuing a career working on public art projects that inspire and educate people. With an insatiable interest in art history and an outgoing personality, Gonsalvez jumps right into each project with a ready brush and a ready smile.
What is your favorite part of Cre8tive YouTH*ink projects?
I don’t even know where to start. Seeing everyone’s different ideas, characters, and styles and creating a kind of medley of artists. I almost had a heart attack when one piece wasn’t coming out the way I wanted it but it was fun making it work together.
What do you think about Martha Cooper’s image that was chosen for the mural?
It’s symbolic of turning junk into beauty. When I was 10, I would collect aluminum foil and I’d use it for art. I’d go into neighbors’ recycling bins or take my grandmother’s foil. She’d get mad at me but I couldn’t NOT do it because it was what was interesting to me. I really loved making sculptures with it. So, the photo took me back to when I was a kid. I didn’t know why I was making art as a kid. I just saw things that were interesting. And a lot of artists do that. As an artist you want to transform things. Like Duchamp.
Are you inspired by Duchamp?
Thats something I’ve learned about that has stayed with me. I’ve found myself looking at certain things and seeings them as possible art material. Treasure in subjective and everyone has their own treasure. Art is also subjective and everyone has their own art.
What do you think about turning the image into a public mural?
Turning it into a mural is very compelling and will leave a lasting message because it’s very Brooklyn and it’s also a very nostalgic piece since Brooklyn is changing a lot now. The Brooklyn I remember from growing up and the Brooklyn of today are two completely different things. The young boy claiming street signs and collecting broken parts makes me think of the way Brooklyn was then.
Advice to younger artists?
I would tell them to use every pencil, paint, or piece of chalk they can find. And use it until you need more, and make yourself want to make more art by using what you have. The paint is going to dry up, and the pencil and charcoal is going to get brittle, and that’s art you could give to yourself and the world . Really, just do it. If you have a pencil and it’s at 100%, you’re doing something wrong…unless you just got a new pencil!
Name: Lalita Santos
Joined Cre8tiveYouTH*ink: 2010
Lalita Santos joined Cre8tiveYouTH*ink in her sophomore year at Brooklyn High School of the Arts because all of her friends were involved by then. But what began as just another after-school activity to kill time soon turned into one of the best experiences of her life when the team (then called the “SPARK BklynArts Gallery Club”) worked together to transform a community center’s rooftop into an artistic oasis and used one of her illustrations as the basis for the project’s design. She has been hooked ever since and currently studies illustration at Parsons The New School for Design.
How was the work you did with Cre8tiveYouTH*ink different from what you worked on in high school?
We didn’t collaborate on projects in high school so it was different working on projects that weren’t entirely my own. For example, on the 1st project, everyone liked a tree I sketched and decided to put it on the rooftop but some team members had different ideas to add to it also. I tried not to be bossy about it and in the end, the work was better as a result.
What advice would you give to a younger artist?
Draw or paint anything that you like and then try to use different mediums because when I started I had no idea what I wanted to do and I am still figuring it out. Working on projects like these helps me and could help someone else find out what they want.
Has working on this project inspired your own art?
I haven’t don’t anything on a large scale like this and sometimes I have trouble coming up with ideas on my own but I have this piece of wood that is about 4 ft by 3 ft —not as large as this mural but it’s pretty big–and I want to spray paint it. It’s my first self-initiated project; no one is telling me what to do with this one—I just have to come up with something and try!