Thursday, August 16, 2012


In an attempt to show and tell what's happening in the many AFH Studios,  where mentors guide over 200 inner city teen-artists each year, this is the first in a series of Studio SPOTLIGHTS. Hope you enjoy!

Located in the back corner of the EpiCenter's second floor is the AFH 3D DESIGN / SCULPTURE STUDIO.  To get a snapshot of current activity in the studio we interviewed two of its talented studio mentors. Check out the pics below and read on to learn  about the commissions for Clarks Shoes and Cannistraro, as well what is on the drawing board for 3D/SCULPTURE in the future!

Meet M Quinn, AFH 3D Design Mentor! 

Hi, M!

AFH: Tell me about you!
M: I was born n' raised on Long Island in a family full of Jack n' Jills of all trades. I’ve worked all kinds of jobs, including as a carpenter/cabinet maker’s apprentice, personal trainer, art show coordinator, and independent business owner. When I was 25, I went back to school to obtain my BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design where I studied Furniture Design.  While there, I trained as a shop tech assistant for the metal, wood, alternative materials and upholstery shops, as well as worked as a Teacher’s Assistant for metal shop classes.

AFH: What drew you to AFH?
M: The day I walked into AFH, I was struck by the enthusiasm of EVERYONE who worked here.  There was a strong sense of community and creativity in the air that excited me and made me instantly know that this was the place for me. I felt right at home. It was challenging and inspiring, fast paced and full of potential around every corner, and within every youth that walked through the doors.

Josh staying focused (safely)
AFH: Have you ever worked with teens before? What’s the best part of having teen-artist employees?
M: I have on occasion. The best part is when the teens really get the hang of something after struggling with it. The look on their faces, the feeling of ownership and self-accomplishment that erupts from them is one of the most amazing occurrences you will ever bare witness to. Straight up, it ROCKS.

Daniella sanding away at one of the Cannistraro tables. 

AFH: Describe the Cannistraro Project. What are you making for this unusual plumbing company?
M: Our studio created three custom tables for Cannistraro. We collaborated with the Graphics Studio on a collage theme that utilized printed graphics as well as  recycled plastic bags to create the colorful elements within the design. The bases were designed to have a very utilitarian and industrial feel, with a worn and slightly antiqued look. All tables rest on locking caster wheels that allows them to  be grouped together as one long table or separated for multiple purposes. 

A close-up of the collage-design in one of the Cannistraro tables.

AFH: What was the biggest accomplishment in the Cannistraro commission?
M: The biggest accomplishment is having the entire studio come together and rise to the occasion of getting all the detailed parts done in time to meet a deadline. Seeing our youth participants push themselves to produce quality work under, often times, hard conditions and many frustrating variables, is really inspiring.

One of the finished Cannistraro tables!

AFH: Anything else to share about working at AFH?
M: I love when our studio gets to collaborate with other studios, but, most of all, it’s awesome seeing these youths show the world that they are free thinking artists and designers with a desire to learn, create, and accomplish it all!

Collaging, collaborating, creating!

Meet Andrea Vilanova! The second half of our amazing 3D Design mentor team!  
Hey, Andrea!
         AFH: Andrea, Tell me a little bit about your background.
      Andrea: I'm from El Salvador. I moved to the U.S. to go to college at the   
      Savannah College of Art and Design. I received my bachelors and masters  
      degree in 2005. After I graduated, I moved to Boston for a job in 
I worked in Architecture for four years before changing gears and working in Construction Management. I enjoyed both my architecture and construction experience immensely. My first experience in architecture was focused on community-oriented projects (such as creating shelters, low income housing, community gardens, etc). Later, I transitioned to the opposite end of things and worked on high-end residential and commercial projects.  

I learned a lot from being a part of a construction management team. It gave me more hands-on experience with the construction area of architecture, something that is sometimes overlooked by a designer.

Nice work, Andrea!

AFH: How did you become involved with AFH? 
Andrea: What drew me to work at AFH was a desire to be connected to the community and be able to make a difference in someone's life. AFH is the one of the largest employers of teenagers in Boston, and I only wish I had this opportunity when I was their age! I also find it amazing that so many artistic disciplines are done under one roof at the EpiCenter! Collaboration and interdisciplinary training not only makes you a more informed person, but also helps you become a better artist. Collaboration is key, but, nowadays it seldom happens. 
But at AFH, it is amazing that all of us are in one place, working both together and apart, imagining, producing, and selling work. The creative energy here is endless and you can feel it in every studio.

Inspecting every inch of one of the Clarks tables.
AFH: What’s your favorite part about AFH? 
Andrea: My favorite part, by far, are the participants. We are surrounded by kids who have immense talent. Sometimes, it’s very obvious, and other times, they don't even know they have it in them. It’s great to see how each of them develops artistically and personally as well.  Trying to manage young adults is often challenging, as they are in a very difficult time in their lives, trying to decide what’s next for them as well as balancing home, school, work and their own personal lives.
         Even if they do not realize now what they’re learning here, I believe that   
      someday they will look back and think, “Oh, I get it now!” That’s enough 
      reward for me.
Juanita working on some intricate collaging for Clarks

AFH: Describe the Clarks Project. Did Clarks reach out to AFH to create tables? How did they hear about AFH? 
Andrea: Clarks reached out to AFH after seeing a few pieces we made for Neiman Marcus.We were commissioned to create five tables, two of which are high-tops, and four stools. The tables are to go in the Clarks Vegas showroom!

AFH: What materials were used to create the tables and stools? 
Andrea: The tops of the tables are plywood hard-tops, recycled Clarks catalogs for the graphic images, and a layer of resin to finish the top and coat the catalogue design. The tops are then set in a stainless steel frame.
Close up on our AFH seal of approval adorning the side of a completed Clarks table.

The frames are made of stainless steel. They were designed at AFH, but were manufactured by long-time friend of AFH and often-times AFH collaborator Aaron Legg, a metal fabricator and sculptor who works out of Humphrey’s Street Studio in Dorchester. 

Close-up on one of the Clarks custom-made stools.
AFH: What was the biggest challenge with this project? 
Andrea: The biggest challenge was to make all of the tables stand out on their own, but also work together as a composition. We had three different teen-designers collaborating on the "Collage Tops," all with different styles and approaches.  The three teens were able to find a common element to bring this project to fruition, while also maintaining their individuality. We also had different participants from other studios come by to look at the project and give their constructive comments. Every single one of our participants worked on this project, whether  designing, constructing, finishing, cutting, or sanding the additional steel elements.

First Clarks stool complete!

AFH: The best part of the project? 
Andrea: Our goal was reached! We were able to have all the participants involved in the actual manufacturing. The teens learned that every inch makes a difference when it comes to making high-end quality pieces. Close attention is needed, as well as attention to craftsmanship. I think a big lesson learned during these projects was that even the simplest looking things take a lot of time, thought, and hard work.  
One of the Clarks tables

AFH:What’s next for the 3D studio? 
M: Bike racks, public sculptures, more custom jewelry, tables and awards! Really, whats NOT next for 3D/ Sculpture Studio?!

Andrea: I agree…the sky is the limit! We are tweaking our REVISION LINE, as well as continuing to produce new products for Artists for Humanity – THE STORE at historic Faneuil Hall. We have a broad range of commissioned work lined up including projects for the Federal Reserve Bank, and for the Boston Lyric Opera! 
The biggest Clarks table!

          Awesome work, guys! Stay tuned on our Facebook for more cool projects    
      coming out of the 3D Design/Sculpture Studio, and swing by the EpiCenter  
      on August 23rd to check out our BIG End O' Summer Bash and meet all of   

Completed Cannistraro table!

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