Tell Your Story: Teens Explore Art at the Library

Photography by Aarushi S

“To do art, you don’t need to be artistic or creative, just like anything, you need to work hard!” These are the words of one of the Tell Your Story: Teen Arts Program Series participants, Dhruv, and we’re so glad to hear them!  Over 130 teens participated in Piscataway Public Library’s multi-session series, exploring the arts and self-expression through hands-on workshops. Featuring 11 workshops and 4 asynchronous tutorials, this series, planned and facilitated by our Teen Services Librarians, Erica Krivopal and Kate-Lynn Brown, featured mediums ranging from clay to calligraphy. Working with teaching artists to provide technical instruction as well as historical and contemporary cultural context for the projects, we created a welcoming virtual environment for teens to participate in maker culture.  

Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders through a grant award from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund.

The idea for this program series came about earlier, when Krivopal and Brown applied for funding from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund in September of 2019. But by April of 2020, it was clear that things were going to look a little different than we had planned. Krivopal and Brown seamlessly transitioned the Tell Your Story series online. By providing supply kits for participants to pick up, we ensured that participating teens still had an immersive, hands-on experience.   

Teen participants pointed to the hands-on aspect of these sessions as something they particularly appreciated, and also enjoyed getting to experiment with different art mediums. Sessions focused on paper quilling and painting were especially well received by our teen participants. During the quilling workshop, led by Krivopal and Brown, teens and staff alike were pleased to meet Neha Shah, a participant’s mother who happens to be a quilling artist. Shah gave a quick lesson and answered some questions for our teen participants, an interaction made possible by the series’ virtual format. 

One participant throughout the series, Shriya R., was emphatic in her feedback, saying “There were many fun activities such as painting, engineering, calligraphy, and even photography! I really enjoyed the galaxy painting that was led by Lynn Schwartz. In the painting activity, we learned how to paint a galaxy with just a sponge! We also learned about different types of photos from the photography program! These programs were a great opportunity for me and many others to learn new things and have fun, even at home!”  All participants were invited to our final event on December 3, where artist Matthew Mahoney returned to lead a discussion followed by a digital photography session. Participants and staff chatted, reflecting on the series and discussing the different art forms explored through the various sessions. As we viewed participants’ completed work together, everyone agreed that it was fun to see different interpretations and how each participant put their own personality into their artwork. 

While the series has come to an end, the Library is pleased to present a virtual exhibit where everyone can view and enjoy artwork created by participants throughout the series. Visit the virtual exhibit, created by Dean Klimek, another member of our Teen Services Department, to see some of the many pieces created by the teen participants in the Tell Your Story series.  

Clay by Shaunak B

Krivopal and Brown led workshops featuring air-dry clay, painting, and paper quilling projects, while other sessions, led by teaching artists, include: 

  • Calligraphy, created with the guidance of guest artist Laiyan Yang
  • Book Making facilitated by Frontline Arts and Will Kaplan
  • Kinetic Sculpture led by the Library’s Head of Technology, Doug Baldwin
  • Photography with Matthew Mahoney
  • Guided Painting sessions with Lynn Schwartz of Art Experiences NJ

Calligraphy by Rida H

Galaxy Painting by Amanda G

Air Dry Clay by Crystal D

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