Tuesday, September 18, 2012

STUDIO SPOTLIGHT: AFH’s Brockton Mural Painting Team!

"Beyond the Stratos" Mural at Brockton's Enterprise Building

The AFH Painting Studio fills 3,000 square feet of the EpiCenter's third floor. Every AFH teen participant begins their employment in this vast space, perfect for painting with natural light shining in from floor to ceiling windows at each end, and the Boston skyline glimmering in the distance out of the North side windows.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the school year, the Painting Studio is bustling with teens from all over the city, representing Charlestown, Revere, Southie, Back Bay, Cambridge, and Dorchester. During the past few years,  AFH teen-participants have even come all the way from Brockton, bussing it to the AFH EpiCenter to develop their skills under the guidance of our awesome Painting Studio Mentors. Many of these teens have continued with AFH, but taken their talents back to Brockton. This past summer, with funding from the Commonwealth Corporation, the Brockton Area Workforce Investment Board's Youthworks OneStop Summer Jobs Program, and My Turn, Inc, 16 Brockton teens and youth mentors were hired under the supervision of Artists for Humanity to research, conceive, and create an 18'x75' wall mural to enhance the Brockton Enterprise Building owned by Trinity Financial. 

AFH Co-Founder and Painting Studio Director Rob Gibbs oversaw the Brockton mural project and enlisted the talent and help of Mentor Andy Barbosa from Brockton. Joining Rob and Andy were Brockton artists Derek Jesus, Jeffrey Marseille, and Wendy Mitchel, an AFH alum-turned painter who we asked to talk to us about the making of this impressive mural in just seven hot weeks!

Wendy speaks to the crowd at the Brockton mural's unveiling! 

AFH: Hi Wendy! Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you work at AFH? What studio were you in?
Wendy: I began working at AFH the summer of 2009, going into my senior year of high school. I worked under the supervision of co-founder Rob Gibbs in the painting studio.

AFH: What was the most important thing you learned during your time at AFH?
Wendy: The art of commerce. The first time I sold a painting, it was the most rewarding feeling. I began to understand how to communicate with others through my work.

AFH: Is this your first Mural Project?
Wendy: No, this is actually my second. I was a part of the first mural that the AFH mural team worked on—the “Do You” mural at the Fields Corner train station in Dorchester. It was such a fun project! Not only did we work together to create this awesome mural, but we were able to meet the youth in the community and really understand what it meant to be inspired by public art. And there was a mural project in Brockton last year entitled, "The Sky's the Limit." 

AFH: Describe this Mural you and your team completed in Brockton this past summer. What is the theme?

Wendy: This mural is titled "Beyond the Stratos." It was a mission for us, as artists, to really step up the skill level in this year’s project. Along with that, it was important to us that we elevate the theme. Taking those points into consideration, we came up with the “Beyond The Stratos(phere)” theme. We wanted everyone to know that you can reach even beyond the sky. Hopefully it was successfully communicated!

AFH: What did the building for "Beyond the Stratos" used to be?
Wendy: The Brockton Enterprise building, located in Brockton at 60 Main Street, right in the heart of downtown Brockton. The building used to house the offices of the local newspaper. It’s a very historical landmark in the city of Brockton. There are old photos of large parades in celebration of Rocky Marciano right in front of the building. 

AFH: What is this building going to be used for?
Wendy: The building is going to be one of the hottest spots in Brockton! Trinity Financial will be working on a huge renovation project within the next year, turning the area into large studio condos and work spaces, as well as creating artists’ studio spaces. It's an amazing project and something Brockton definitely needs.

AFH: How many teens worked on the mural?
Wendy: We hired a total of 12 teens this summer. Eight were hired through Brockton Youth Works, and were very new to this artistic world. Four teens were returning AFH youth-artists, some of whom had experience working in the mural last year, but for some, this was their first time.

AFH:Is this your first time working as a mentor? What’s the best part of being a mentor?
Wendy: Yes! This was my first time working as a mentor! It was an exciting time.  I loved the moments when I saw myself of four years ago in one of my mentees. It made me remember how I was so inspired, and it made me want to be the best mentor I can be. 

AFH: What were some of the challenges of this project?
Wendy: The biggest challenge of this year’s project was the heat. Not only was the wall facing the sun, (completely!) but our studio shade space was on the other side of the building. There were some days we had to have studio sessions, because it was just too hot to work. I honestly thought I was going to pass out at one point!

AFH: How has the public reacted so far to the mural?
Wendy: The feedback has been really positive. While we were creating, we had people walking up to us and taking time to talk about the project. We also had people who would just stop and watch for hours. The mural is facing a busy street, so traffic was heavy, which was cool because we had cars honking their horns and screaming out their windows "great job!" 

AFH: Describe to us the unveiling of the mural.
Wendy: We had our unveiling August 21st, 2012 with Mayor Linda Balzotti and some local press, friends, family, and the community. It was such an exciting time to show the community what we have been working on and for the youth to show off their hard work!

AFH: Are you in school right now? If so, where do you go to school?
Wendy: I just completed my studies at Mass College of Art and Design. I am currently working on Art through The University of the Nations. 

AFH: What type of art do you want to create?
Wendy: I want to create art that will change lives. Capturing the hardships of this world and hopefully inspiring others and capturing their heart. I love people, and if my art can inspire and influence someone's life then I've done my job.

For more info on Wendy and see more of her work, check out her site here:  sooambitious.com

And for more info on our NEXT awesome mural project, stay tuned on our facebook page!  

Want more awesome Brockton details? Watch this video now! 

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