From traditional Bharatnatyam dance classes, to creative arts camps in middle school, to attending a high school for the visual and performing arts, art has always been a significant factor in my life. I feel like the early and continued exposure to various arts forms has made me a person who challenges norms, finds creative solutions, and can navigate the world in a way that only an artist can.
With arts programming and education budgets being cut drastically in recent years, nourishing youth’s creative minds has been put on the backburner nationwide. Art is seen as a simple hobby and not a necessity, which honestly hurts my soul.
One thing about this generation of young adults that I have noticed is an almost unbreakable bond with their cell phones. Even as an adult it has become harder to disconnect from my phone and reconnect with people. But that is why I believe that fostering an environment of creativity is so important for growing minds. Every form of art can be used as a method of connecting inwardly to ourselves, expressing our views to others, or experiencing a thought/feeling/emotion from someone else’s mind.
I think that programs like B-SAFE that still find ways to cater to the portion of the mind that craves dance, music, painting, and theatre are rare and special. Most of my kids think about art as drawing and the level of enthusiasm towards that varies greatly. But this year in our art specialty they are able to design their own screen prints to put on T-shirts which is an art form that is less typical for them to try. In an ideal situation each youth would be able to find an art form that speaks to them, be it graffiti, improv, jewelry-making, DJ-ing, or hair braiding. Finding an artistic skill that they are genuinely interested in and want to develop is like planting a seed that can help their minds flourish.
Art makes the world that much more rich, beautiful, and vibrant. Even though participating (in anything really) garners an eyeroll and a groan from most of my middle schoolers, I hold out hope that with enough exposure to new artistic opportunities that something will spark that creative gene in them. I truly believe that finding a connection to creativity is a way for these youth to connect with each other and possibly--possibly-- put down the phones every once in awhile.
By Vicky Ajene
I am Vicky Ajene, a 26-year old fashion designer and alumni of the B-SAFE Program. I grew up in the arts, attending Boston Arts Academy for Instrumental Music and Lasell College to receive my B.A. in Fashion Design and Production. After college I freelanced as a designer for PUMA and J.Jill and later went on to teach at Lasell College as an adjunct professor. What I hope to bring to the program is a sense of community and an outlet that encourages kids to explore their creative sides.