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I was allowed to break the crayons

Please make your year-end gift to New Urban Arts today. You’ll be offering the joy of unfettered creativity to young people who too often face constraints. One of our students recently wrote her college essay on the difference between New Urban Arts and other learning spaces, and I asked her if I could share it with you:

“I was sitting by myself at a long wooden table while everyone was drawing pictures to give their moms. I started my process by splitting my crayons down the long way with scissors. I wanted to achieve a page full of smooth color swaths. Before I could even begin to drag my crayons across the blank paper, my kindergarten teacher, grabbed my hand and yelled at me, “Stop destroying the art supplies!” She then walked me over into the corner, and I had to sit there for the rest of the art class. My passion for exploring the full potential of materials started at a young age. According to that teacher, so did my rebellion.

“As I grew older, it was up to me to find my art community: I was looking for other people who loved art as much as I did. Freshman year of high school, I discovered a non-profit organization across the street from my school. New Urban Arts is an art studio open to high school students. It’s completely free and has opened many opportunities for me to try different mediums and ways of working. When I first got to New Urban Arts, I was scared because I didn’t know what to expect. However, everything there was magical and filled with compassion. This place became a home for me: a family. It was like a treehouse. It was my escape when I needed space. I felt grounded: like I was above all the craziness that was going on in life. I explored making books, developing film and drawing from observation. At New Urban Arts, I was allowed to break the crayons.

“At the New Urban Arts studio, I’d found creative professionals who cared. They were constantly immersed in their process and sharing their knowledge with students. I learned that as an artist you should never stop creating. Creating gives me purpose: it helps me understand myself and the world around me. Art is a language that addresses aspects of our experiences for which there are no words. I learned that artistic expression is vital to my life and the way I function. I also learned that I can create my own family of people who truly want the best for me. New Urban Arts offers a tremendous amount of empathy without asking for anything in return. They have taught me to spread love and understanding to those around me.

“If there was one thing I learned when my teacher took those crayons away from me, it was how precious art is and what creativity means to me. Art helps people come together to create and reinvent the world around them. This is my community.”

With in-school arts education at an all-time low, more youth than ever are flocking to the community that New Urban Arts provides. I hope you’ll help us provide it for them.

Daniel Schleifer, Executive Director

Support New Urban Arts.