Whether it’s painting a mural, learning an instrument, or apprenticing as a designer, progressive mastery of artistic skills can help young people discover new ways of using their imaginations and provide tools to give expression to new ideas. When it is meaningful and relevant to teens, art can encourage positive self-expression and explorations of cultural identity.
Surdna supports rigorous arts and culture training programs that incorporate career and life skills and motivate and support teens as they navigate their way to adulthood. When young people are learning graphic design from a professional artist or mobilizing local residents to transform the walls around a vacant lot to speak out against gun violence, the skills they learn prepare them not only for careers, but also to be lifelong problem solvers.
From dance studios to music conservatories, the artistic training organizations we support stress that while artistic talent is crucial and can lead to rewarding careers, it produces other equally important components to success that will never appear on a stage or an easel.
Roger and DeAnna Cummings, artists who founded Juxtaposition Arts in urban North Minneapolis, say their goal is not to turn all of their teen graphic design apprentices into professional artists, but to instill in them a strong sense of self and give them a set of tools they’ll find useful no matter what careers they choose.