By Sarah Fujimoto
A city on a hill cannot be hidden. What is bright cannot be hidden, what is elevated cannot be brought down. What is filled with hope doesn’t entertain despair, and what breathes life takes away death and pain. Perspective is a word that continues to be on my heart lately. The way you see a situation and how you respond to a situation can be a matter of perspective.
The students at Ayuda Community Center have a perspective that is filled with life, love, beauty, and truth. They remind me of a strainer, the kind that I used to strain gravy with when I was child, skimming off any particles of fat that were on the surface. The fat is collected and removed, but perhaps this time it should remain. Perspective. Fat can be defined as the best or richest part of anything, which is what their art to me represents. The best and richest of their current perspective at that time, reflecting a very pure picture of hope, beauty, and love that is communicated through their pieces.
Ayuda Community Center holds classes at their center for 10 weeks in the fall and spring. Highlighted below are the pieces of some of the students, and their interests.
Shawn, age 11, attended beginning drawing, dj class, and boy scouts at the community center this past fall. Shawn enjoys drawing people and utilizing pencil within in his drawings. He would like to be an architect when he gets older. Showing me two different drawings done at the beginning and end of class, the contrast was very apparent. Learning how to draw the shapes of eyes, noses, and other features through the class session, the face drawn at the beginning of the session was transformed with the knowledge gained into a very detailed and depth filled face as the end product for the art show. Meeting for 2 hours a week for one class, Shawn is busy which he describes as keeping him out of trouble. He smiles as he talks about how Ayuda has provided a lot of positive adults in his life as well.
Qaaid, age 15, attended graphic design this past fall. In discussing about why he came, he describes how he had done art before but was encouraged to come by the staff. He is glad that he did because he learned a new skill. The theme that the fall courses revolved around was “Creative Work in the Midst of Violence”. Qaaid designed a t-shirt, which was a progression from the beginning. He explains how the design began and how it evolved and changed throughout his production of it.
Alexis, age 16 has interests in piano, drama, drawing, and photography. Her photos were chosen for Ayuda’s new brochure to advertise the programs the Community Center hosts. She also has interests in writing. She is thankful for Ayuda because of the high expectations and standards that seem to encourage her and keep her going. Alexis enjoys taking photos of things that show beauty in ways that people don’t usually expect or see for themselves. I believe her art inspires others to search for beauty in odd places, which sometimes can be right in front of you.
Brittany, age 15 took drawing this past fall. She describes Ayuda as being another source of art influence in her life, as she attends a charter high school focusing on architecture and design. Taking knowledge learned from both places and seeing how they intertwine together. She was able to draw on different types of paper, working with charcoal, ink, oil pastels, chalk pastels, and pencil in her drawing class. She explains how she is able to express more with the use of color through the pastels. What has Ayuda helped her with? She explains that is has gotten her out of the house, helping her to do something different for a change.
Ayuda’s community arts mission is “to transform our Hunting Park community in North Philadelphia by providing avenues of expression for the abundant creativity existing within our neighbors”.
You can learn more about Ayuda Community Center and the variety of youth and adult programs they offer at www.ayudacc.org.
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Sarah currently resides in an inner city community in West Philadelphia. She is attending Eastern University in St. Davids where she will be getting her Master of Arts in International Development this June. She enjoys exploring, learning, sewing, creating, dance, youth, writing, drawing, music, and painting.