Alumnus Emely Barroso wrote this reflection on the role of New Urban Arts in her life trajectory during her junior year in high school.
Ever since I can remember, I have always enjoyed art. Fond memories of my childhood always include coloring, playing with clay, or drawing. Art was just really fun for me for a long time. Then it happened. I remember walking through a bookstore when I saw Around the World in 45 Years, a compilation of Peanuts comic strips. I knew I had to have it. After reading it front to back, I became inspired, even infatuated, with Charles Schulz’s work. From that point on, I also knew what I wanted to do in life.
I wanted to draw.
And so I did. By the end of fifth grade, I began to get really serious about comics and sequential art. I remember my teacher had just ordered How to Draw Manga (manga is a style of drawing, also known as “Japanese comics”) by Katy Coope. The first day it came in, I borrowed it; the last week of school, I sadly returned it—weeks overdue.
I continued to draw manga throughout middle school. After middle school I joined New Urban Arts, and my world and my mind exploded there. I love it there so much! Thanks to them, I have made comics, friends, zines (self-published pieces of work), participated in Lock-Ins, performed in front of an audience, visited Boston’s Papercut Zine Library, met so many amazing people, and learned to love art in a way I never had before. I owe them all so
much and am eternally grateful for all they have done for me.
And at my school, Feinstein High School, I was asked to draw covers for the afterschool program booklet (twice!), and then I was invited to start the Feinstein High School (FHS) Zine Team as part of the afterschool program.
The FHS Zine Team is an independent, self-publishing, media club. We meet weekly and create our own publications to give out in the world. At first, I was really nervous being “the teacher”. I was on edge wondering, “Will anyone show up? Will there be a lot of people? Will they even want to stay?” To my surprise, about six or seven students and Ms. Heather, the assistant director of the afterschool program, attended. And they actually liked it, and told me they wanted to come back next week. I felt so accomplished—people enjoyed my class!
Since then, the FHS Zine Team has worked on an average of three zines per student. We also have a web site in progress (fhszineteam.webs.com) and a collaborative zine about happy memories. I am very excited about what is in store for the FHS Zine Team as well as so very proud of all of the work they have done.
Recently, I found a new way to explore my passion. I am taking a brand new course at the Feinstein afterschool program: cartooning and anime.
So in conclusion: Why do I do art? I do art with one dream in mind. While not exactly the most noble or profound dream ever, it’s the reason why I pick up a pencil or pen every day. And no, it’s not to get famous or super rich. My reason for drawing is the hope that one day my art will inspire someone to do what they love. I want them to be inspired the way I was by Charles Schulz when I picked up his work. The thought of someone looking at my art and saying, “Wow! I want to do that!” is what keeps my heart a-pumpin’ and my hands wrapped around a pencil.
That is why I attend New Urban Arts, joined their Zine Team, started a Zine Team at Feinstein High, continue to make zines, comics and paintings, and just carry an excitement for possibilities in my heart.
For those reasons, I make art. And my afterschool programs fuel my desire to pursue my passion.