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A Perspective from a Student, 2011 Annual Campaign Testimonial

I have been coming to New Urban Arts for three years. I am also on STAB, which is the Studio Team Advisory Board. We plan many different events at New Urban Arts. Like Spirit Day, which we had yesterday, which involved fort building, jewelry making and other activities. 

At New Urban Arts I work with many different mediums, but my artwork usually ends up being big, colorful, bright and full of glitter. One day I plan to be a fashion designer. 

Before New Urban Arts I was very shy, quiet, and didn’t have many friends. I didn’t have hair either. Imagine me BALD! I had a typical routine that I did every day. Wake up, go to school, go back home and do homework and some chores. 

I didn’t know much about Rhode Island in general. All I knew was Cranston Street, Main Street, school and Elmwood Little League Baseball Field. My life was pretty much boring. I had never even ridden public transportation before.

But then one day, a really good friend of mine, Bridgette, took me to go see New Urban Arts. At first I was very scared because there were so many people here. And Jesse had a very angry look on his face. He gave me these papers to sign and a student named Jackson gave me a tour around the place. A dark room? A drying rack? I didn’t even know there were things like that. It was all very confusing to me. 

After that I didn’t come back for awhile. Also It took me forever to fill out those papers. They gave me very hard questions. Typically, your parents fill out applications for you. There was one that I struggled to fill out and it scared me at the same time. It was the one about my sexual orientation. At the time I didn’t know if I was gay or not. Plus I thought they would make fun out of me because of that. And that they would tell my mother. 

So one day I had the courage to go back to New Urban Arts. But I only planned to go for half an hour, including the 15 minutes walk to New Urban Arts from school. There was this one artist mentor, David, taking a couple of students to the jewelry district to go see an exhibit. I told him I didn’t want to go, but then Bridgette forced me to go. And in the end I was happy that she did. 

When I saw the work in the gallery I thought everything was really amazing. It showed me that art isn’t only just splatter paintings and cartoon drawings. It was the start of my life as an artist at New Urban Arts. 

New Urban Arts gave me the opportunity to see Providence. It didn’t limit me just to New Urban Arts. When I made friendships with mentors, it kind of gave me a VIP pass to many activities they were doing outside of New Urban Arts. 

Like helping out Andrew with a project at the RISD Museum. Or going to the Athenaeum with the Summer Art Inquiry. Or going to the Secret Restaurant and helping Emmy and other students make lanterns for an apartment that serves dinner weekly – but I can’t tell you more, it’s a secret. These are places I had never been to before. Working with these mentors have really opened my eyes to see the artistic side of Providence. 

New Urban Arts also broke my shell. The atmosphere at NUA made me want to be kind and loving and to be funny just like the people were here at New Urban Arts. It also gave me tons of love every single day. When I walked through that door, I got a warm and loving hug and it just made everything bad go away. 

The hugs and love meant a lot to me. It gave me hope and made me believe I was a part of something big. It also made me feel like I was the best artist in Rhode Island. Like everything I made was just pure genius. 

Last, NUA made me loud. 

It made me want to live for the next day. It gave me the voice and opportunity to say something that really matter to me. When no other place would. 

It also gave me a place where my glitter-izing skills were appreciated. 

New Urban Arts means the world to me. 

– Noel Puello