Malikah Mahone ‘17 and Cecilia DiFranco ‘17 have channeled their passion for art into a program that will give back to the community and provide an enriching environment for young artists. The smART Program focuses on art making, professional development, career preparedness, and social activism in art.
“I approached Cecilia DiFranco, with the idea to create a program in Kalamazoo and she was on board! A few weeks ago Cecilia and I approached the Art Department with a proposal for a 7-week art intensive for 10-12 local high school students with an interest in the visual arts and social justice/action. They loved the idea, offered to provide the Park Trades Studio as a meeting space for the art program and funding for materials. I applied and was awarded through the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Fund to cover the cost of materials for the program. We also worked close with the CCE to spread the word about the program and they generously offered funding,” said Mahone.
The smART Program is a seven-week long, studio-based intensive program for high school students with an expressed interest in and aptitude for the visual arts and social activism. Through the exhibition planning process, students will be exposed to a broad range of creative careers as they work with K College students, administrators, and professional artists.
This process encourages the development of each student’s time management and communication skills. Student’s graduate from the program with a portfolio of artwork, writing and design samples, as well as a resume of skills that include public speaking, social media marketing, budgeting, graphic design, and photography. Most importantly, students learn to be civically engaged artists and gain an understanding of how to create work for social change.
The smART Program is free of charge with no previous art-making experience required and located at the Kalamazoo College Community Studio in The Park Trades Center. The workshops will provide opportunity for the students to explore themes in their own work and by the end of the seven weeks, they will have artwork to show in a formal gallery setting. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively with fellow youth artist as they develop new and unique skills.
“The smART program is going great. The small group of young artists from the area have a lot of insight on contemporary social issues and our discussions are meaningful,” says DiFranco.
Current projects include understanding the importance of social justice artwork and the ways in which they as young artists can participate in creating change. Kalamazoo College student J Kyon ’17 facilitated a workshop for the participants to explore and discuss identity. There are trips to the Kalamazoo Institute of Art scheduled to discuss works by local artists. Participants will also have the opportunity to try Japanese Water marbling, photography and curating for a group exhibition.
Mahone and DiFranco began their program on April 8 and will run until June 3. Near the end of the program, students will have the opportunity to curate and show their work at the Kalamazoo College Community Studio during June Art Hop.