Twenty Years of Encouraging Creativity to Soar
Over 20 years, ART 180 has worked with thousands of young people, inspiring change in their lives, providing them with a platform to express themselves and expand upon their creativity, and celebrating their creative development through various forms of public art that brighten communities across Richmond.
That's right we said it -- 20!
This year marks the 20th anniversary of ART 180. This year is special because it reminds us what our work provides to so many young artists in the community. And in the name of our anniversary, we’re sharing with you a sweet moment between one of our program leaders, Mica Whitney, and one of our participants, Rakeesha Entzminger, from Redd Elementary.
At Redd, Rakeesha and 17 of her peers are designing their own board games. The program allows young people to explore new ways to put a spin on the typical board game, basing their games on social topics that matter to them. For example, Rakeesha’s game, called “Run Baby Run”, is a commentary on parenting (yes, we were blown away!). Rakeesha says her game is played “like Monopoly” but instead of moving your pieces around the board over spaces reading “Income Tax” or “Go to Jail”, in Rakeesha’s game you’ll see squares like “Change a Diaper”. Last Thursday, Rakeesha took a break from creating “Run Baby Run” and sat down with Mica so they could ask each other questions about what art and ART 180 mean to them.
Mica: How long have you been a part of ART 180?
Rakeesha: I’ve been a part of ART 180 for three years.
Rakeesha: What made you want to join ART 180?
Mica: I really love art. I love making art, and I love seeing what children make. I love holding space for children to be creative and to really let their self-expression shine.
Mica: Tell me about what you’ve been creating in ART 180? What is your artwork about?
Rakeesha: So we’re doing a board game. I’m making it with Jurnee and Madison and it’s called “Run Baby Run”. It’s very cool. It’s like a board game similar to Monopoly.
Rakeesha: What do you like most about creating art?
Mica: Hmm… I love getting messy and I love having the art kind of evolve into something unexpected. I like how when sometimes you plan for [what you’re creating] to go one way, and then through the process of creating it looks different from what you expect. It’s like a nice surprise.
Mica: It’s nice to have the freedom to create whatever I want.
Mica: How do you feel when you create art?
Rakeesha: I feel like I’m in a happy place because when you create art you get to be yourself and do your own designs without somebody judging it. If somebody does judge it then you don’t have to worry about it. That’s what makes art cool to me.
Mica: How do you want people to feel when they see your artwork?
Rakeesha: I want people to feel the same way I do…that they don’t have to worry about what other people say. I’m not going to care about what people think about my work because I put a lot of effort into it.
Rakeesha: What do you like most about ART 180?
Mica: I like when it comes time for the BIG Show and all the hard work that you guys put in is celebrated by the whole community. I love seeing when parents and friends and family members come out and everyone is so happy to see and celebrate the work that you’ve been doing. That’s my favorite part.
Mica: What do you like most about ART 180?
Rakeesha: I like that we can be ourselves in here. We’re not going to be judged. We’re seen [for] who we really are. I feel like I’m in a safe and happy place.
Mica: Does art play an important part in your life?
Rakeesha: It can. When I get bored, I get creative and like what you said, when you’re trying to draw a picture and it turns out to be more than what you expect.
Rakeesha: Is there any advice you can give me before my big show performance?
Mica: Just relax and have fun!
Rakeesha: I will do that!