Before the proverbial paint was dry, Art Escape put its 2019 $20,000 Community Grant to work, expanding its successful Teen Art Lounge to two Fridays per month from August 2019 through July 2020. Though 20 participants is considered a full session, 21 showed up the first week, then 26 the next. The program is off to a great start.
Creating “Puzzle Boxes” was a new artistic challenge offered, using bookboard, acrylic sheet, book cloth and Japanese hole punches to create the boxes. Teenager Peyton described her experience saying, “When making a puzzle box I learned that having the right measurements and planning ahead can really help when creating a project and make it easier. Learning that skill is already coming in handy with school projects and in classwork.” Many of the teens also expressed their appreciation to have time away from the pressures of home life and teenage responsibilities.
Peyton continued, “One benefit of going to Teen Art Lounge is making friends. When I first started coming here I would come with my school friends, and tonight I decided to come by myself because I feel so comfortable here. Also, my artistic skills are growing. Learning new methods to create is also a really cool thing that I take away from Art Escape. I get to try out new materials that I don't have at home or school.” The chance to connect with other teens has been particularly helpful for several home-schooled students who, before attending Teen Art Lounge, felt they were without a community.
Some Art Escape teens have become assistant teachers, organizing materials and helping with classes, and several high school seniors have decided to pursue art related Senior Projects with Art Escape staff as their Senior Project mentors. “I think that Teen Art Lounge is a great program for Sonoma to have because it includes kids who aren’t always into regular activities,” Peyton concluded. “At Teen Art Lounge we can express our artistic abilities and also be around other types of kids – from different schools and who are different ages. Lots of kids like to spend their Friday nights at football games and at parties, but some of us have been looking for a place like this to feel like part of the community.”