The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 6, Featuring Street Artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode is complete!
Street artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode engage fifteen inner city youths in all aspects of mural-making to produce a large-scale (45’ x 80’) mural inspired by a photo from legendary photographer Martha Cooper – Now installed at 267 Pacific Street in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn.
Click Below to Watch Brief Video of the Making of Sign Language.
New York, NY – Cre8tive YouTH*ink, in collaboration with the Quinlan Development Group and Lonicera Partners, is pleased to announce the completion of “The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 6,” featuring street artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode, a project providing creative arts mentorship to 15 inner-city youths (ages 15 – 22) in a two-month-long mural workshop.
The group’s work ultimately resulted in a large-scale (45’ x 80’) permanent site-specific mural titled Sign Language. The image was inspired by a photo from Martha Cooper’s – “Street Play Project” (1978), her eloquent photo series that poignantly captures the resiliency of inner-city youths amid the bleak backdrop of a blighted 1970s New York City. Sign Language spans upward from the 2nd to the 7th floors of 267 Pacific Street in full view from the busy intersection of Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
The Project— Street artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode led the Cre8tive YouTH*ink group of apprentice artists through all aspects of mural making – engaging them in the process of planning and producing a large-scale public art project. Pre-production meetings took place at the Ray Smith Studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Production took place at the group’s temporary headquarters, a large studio in the Industry City Complex located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
At the studio at Industry City, during the course of eight weeks, the group used a variety of media to prepare the one hundred 4’ x 8’ “Hardie Board” composite panels that make up the mural. Once completed, the panels were permanently installed by the skilled craftsmen of the Janbar Construction Company onto the exterior wall of a new residential building located at 267 Pacific Street in the Boerum Hill Section of Brooklyn. The building is currently being developed by The Quinlan Development Group and Lonicera Partners.
Social Media – In addition to the visual arts apprentices involved in the making of the mural, this project also featured three social media apprentices who documented the mural’s progress. The social media group Instagrammed and Facebooked the project’s progress – and generated a total of 11 blog posts for the Niborama creative arts blog. Check out the Cre8tive YouTH*ink youth arts blog coordinated by Robin Cembalest, Editor-in-Chief of ARTnews Magazine, at Niborama.com.
All of the apprentice artists received stipends and Metrocards to defray living costs during the project. They were also provided breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack on their scheduled workdays.
Food service was provided by Ninja Bubble Tea who kept the crew well fed throughout the project and the bubble tea flowing.
The materials used to paint the mural panels included Sherwin-Williams exterior latex and Montana 94 spray paints with Sherwin-Williams Sher-Clear acrylic industrial/marine clear overcoat for added protection from the elements.
About Cre8tive YouTH*ink — Cre8tive YouTH*ink is a non-profit creative arts youth development organization. Using elements of developmental psychology, attachment theory, social justice youth development, and critical pedagogy, we collaborate with arts professionals to design projects that revive the spirit of apprenticeship in the arts, pairing creative urban youths with top artists, journalists and technical professionals in the making of real works of art.
This multi-disciplinary approach provides a safe and nurturing setting where youths work collaboratively with arts professionals and each other – maturing as artists, and also gaining the cultural capital needed to more fully participate in their own lives and in the world, ready to assume leadership roles within their communities.
“A big part of Cre8tive YouTH*ink’s mission is our steadfast commitment to the idea that we can, through the arts, influence the cultivation of a creative, ethical, critically thinking, and socially engaged urban youth constituency,” says Jerry Otero (aka Mista Oh), Cre8tive YouTH*ink’s founder and director.
“Through our Gallery Club and Art School Without Walls programs, we use contemporary art as a jumping off point to help inner-city youth to become aware of and empowered to respond to the seemingly invisible forces fomenting the conditions of their lives, especially those that affect their communities, the underclass, the underprivileged and minorities in New York City.”
“Cre8tive YouTHink’s public-art projects help foster young people’s positive and conscious development by using an ‘each one teach one’ peer-to-peer methodology that encourages the development of a different, very personal sense of civic and personal awareness. This is just one of the ways we help young people to build the assets they need to become more conscious and involved citizens,” says Otero.
About Chris Stain—Chris Stain grew up in Baltimore. He was introduced to art through graffiti – via books like Subway Art by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, movies like Wild Style, Style Wars, Beat Street, and rap records that featured graffiti lettering on their covers.
Starting with the printmaking he learned in high school, Stain later adapted the stenciling techniques for which he has now become well known. Reminiscent of the American Social Realist movement of the 1930s and 40s, his large-scale stencil street art aims to dignify the struggles of unrecognized and underrepresented people in society.
Kids play heavily in Stain’s work and he likes doing collaborative projects with inner-city youths. Says Stain, “If I can share some creativity with them the way it was freely shared with me, it may just help them get through some of the tougher times in life. Self-expression is a powerful self-healer.”
Stain currently teaches art inNew York City’s public schools and is pursuing a degree in Art Education at Queens College. Recent commissions include Annie, a mural for Columbia Motion Pictures in New York, and Betting on Someday, painted at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens with Katherine Huala.
About Billy Mode— Billy Mode is a Baltimore artist who credits his personal style to his early training in 1980s graffiti movement. His other influences include sacred geometry, micro/macrocosm parallels, and designs that exist in nature.
Mode fuses these concepts with words and phrases from songs, lectures and conversationsto create mathematically influenced modular structures that communicate thought-provoking messages.
He uses his stencil concepts to create large-scale outdoor murals as well as experimental paintings in the studio.
Mode and Stain are childhood friends who have worked together often. Recent collaborative projects include “Invent the Future” at the Bushwick Collective, Brooklyn, “Open Walls” in Baltimore, and “Articulate Baltimore,” also in Baltimore.
About Martha Cooper— Martha Cooper is a documentary photographer who has specialized in shooting urban vernacular art and architecture for over 30 years. Born in Baltimore, she earned an art degree from Grinnell College, joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Thailand before motorcycling from Bangkok to London – going on to earn a degree in ethnology from Oxford. She then settled in Manhattan, where she worked as a staff photographer for the New York Post in the 1970s.
Cooper is a major documentarian of the graffiti and street art movements. Her seminal book Subway Art (Holt Paperbacks, 1988) has been hailed the “Graffiti Bible,” but it is her photo essay book Street Play (2005) that best reflects her commitment to capturing the scrappiness and creativity with which inner-city kids make the best of their surroundings. She is especially taken by the resourcefulness of those “making something from nothing.”
The current mural project is inspired by Cooper’s photo of a teenage boy climbing a street lamp pole to retrieve a bicycle tire. The boy was known to scavenge the city for bicycle parts from which he would fashion his own uniquely engineered designs that he and his friends would ride to get around town.
It is just this spirit of creativity and aspiration that is reflected in Cre8tive YouTH*ink’s Art School Without Walls projects.
Learn More and Follow the Project on Social Media
Soomee Suh, co-founder of Ninja Bubble Tea, discusses entrepreneurship, the value of community and why she wanted to support Cre8tiveYouTH*ink’s latest project with Nicole Casamento of Niborama
By the time Cre8tiveYouTH*ink decided to rent a studio space in Industry City for the Art School Without Walls Vol. 6., most of the project’s logistics were taken care of, except for one: feeding the entire crew each weekend as they worked on the mural. As luck would have it, there was a relatively new, small store named Ninja Bubble Tea, on the first floor of the building, which offers vietnamese sandwiches and a variety of beverages.
Ninja Bubble Tea is co-owned by Soomee Suh and Chantha Uy. They met years ago in a business program at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Suh and Uy became pediatric nurses in the following years but the dream of entrepreneurship stayed with them. Last year, they both attended Bubble Tea University and jumped on the opportunity to open up shop in Sunset Park. They both still work full-time shifts as nurses, while taking turns running the store on the side.
Click here to read more from Nicole Casamento on Niborama …
Each week, we will interview members of The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 6 to learn more about the apprentices, their journey as artists and their aspirations
NAME: VINCE MAXIMIN
JOINED Cre8TiveYouTH*INK: 2010
Vince is one of the first Cre8tiveYouTH*ink members, working on every one of the group’s projects to date. He joined the group as a sophomore at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts. As he practiced graffiti and street art from a young age, this current project is close to his heart. Vince is currently a second year student at Parsons with a focus on fine arts. He hopes to bridge his interest in street art with his studies, which stress a more traditional focus on painting, drawing, and sculpture.