Art Buddies

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Over the last few months, I was pleased to be a part of a wonderful creative mentorship program here in Minneapolis simply named, Art Buddies. The after-school program partners with the Minneapolis Public Schools, which pairs a student with a creative mentor. The Art Buddies mission is help children discover what they can do and who they can become through the power of creativity.

During the program a collection of volunteers, whom come from a multitude of creative backgrounds including, graphic designers, art directors, interior designers, and art enthusiasts work with their buddy once a week to create an imaginative costume. Costumes are designed to echo the students’ interests and embraces their individuality while the process fosters creativity and celebrates their unique character. At the end of the program, students and their Art Buddy are given the opportunity to join in a parade through their school and show off their creations. Ultimately, the focus is on the student, celebrating who they are and helping them create a one-of-a-kind vision and bringing it to reality.

Niko + the Lion

Art Buddies began like many new experiences begin, a mind chock full of thoughts racing feverishly as we patiently await the arrival of the students. Will my buddy like me? What are we going to make? When was the last time I used a hot glue gun and has hot glue gun technology advanced since my last interaction preventing me from burning my fingers? Answer to that, no. However, all of these thoughts came to a halt as students arrive and the dodgeball-esque selection system commenced. But all jitters subsided when my buddy and I were paired and he sat down gave me a high five and started sketching out ideas. It was exciting to see what interested him but there was no mincing of words, he wanted to be a lion.

As weeks progressed his costume came together piece-by-piece and evolved but the basic premise stayed the same. There were days that were more productive and there were days that called for just drawing and enjoying the Art Buddies experience. Peppered into the program buddies from different creative professions were given the opportunity to shed light on what they do and how they utilize their creativity in their everyday professional lives. I was lucky enough to present what it’s like to be a Marketing Director at an architectural firm, and my creative career, where we use online marketing and physical marketing too like canvas prints.

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On the last day, Niko and I along with all of the buddies had a chance to parade and celebrate their hard work through the hallways of Whittier Elementary. Led by a drum corps we were met with waves and smiles of the Whittier student body. As the program came to a close students and their Art Buddy each had the opportunity to present their costume, story, and inspiration. Our final session ended with a high five and a handmade card concluding a wonderful experience that I won’t soon forget.

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To learn more about Art Buddies please visit their website, www.artbuddies.org.



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