For the past few months we've been piloting a program in our Print Shop with teens who are clients in the JOURNEYS Community Support program - a Catholic Charities initiative that enhances community engagement and strengthens individualized support systems for youth ages 12-20 in recovery. Every Friday evening, JOURNEYS Community Support Specialist Nicki Murphy brings the teens to our Co-Op to work with our Facilities Coordinator (and all around Print Guru) Josh Norton.
The goal of the program is to empower area youth through the arts by introducing them to new techniques, provide leadership opportunities, and show how art can be used to activate change in their communities. After the process of screenprinting is mastered, the teens will have the opportunity to take our Mobile Print Cart out to their own communities and lead their peers in screenprinting demonstrations.
We started calling the program our "Print Academy", but of course the teens had a better idea - they call themselves The Steaming Ink Outfitters.
Here's what a few of the youth had to say about their experiences in the print shop so far...
“I didn’t think I would like screen printing as much as I do now because I never considered myself an artist. I have learned so many things since I started going every week, and I ended up really enjoying it. It’s been a lot of fun getting to collaborate with the other JOURNEYS teens because it gives us all a productive outlet. We are able to spark new ideas by channeling our creativity through art. Josh makes it easy for me to learn, and I appreciate his time spent with me in the studio.”
“The printing workshops are good because I’m learning how to put designs on tee shirts and this is something I didn’t know how to do before I started coming. In the past month, Josh has taught me how to turn my ideas into original pieces of art. I feel lucky to be coming to the workshops and I look forward to them every week. It gives me something to do and it also helps me to be around other people. Right now I’m working on a project to be entered into the ExhiBIKEtion and it’s been fun. I want to say thank you to the people who made this happen.”
“Josh is very charismatic, and this makes it easy for me to pay attention to the things that he is teaching. I love how fun and welcoming the environment is! I feel like my ideas for projects are supported and respected, therefore I am able to freely express myself. I also feel like I’m able to learn from my mistakes without feeling bad about making them. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to discover a new medium and develop a new skill at no cost.”
“I liked going to the screen printing workshops because they gave me a chance to get out of the house and try something different. I was interested in making art, but I didn’t have anyone available to teach me or a space to work in. At first I was nervous and didn’t know what it would be like, but then I got used to going and felt more comfortable. Josh welcomed me to his studio at the Union and taught me how to use the equipment. He is patient and nice to all of us and a really good artist. I learned how to use the tee shirt press, and I got to help put numbers on jerseys for little kids’ basketball teams. I felt really good about helping those kids because now they will each have their own number when they play in games. “