RAW, Thousand Hills help young artists flourish

Bruce Orr, art therapist at RAW Art Works in Lynn, hangs paintings for the new art show at Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. on Munroe Street in Lynn. Photo by Owen O’Rourke

By Thomas Grillo

LYNN — It may not have the cache of a Newbury Street art gallery, but the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. has something just as flashy, a place for teen artists to show their work.

Raw Art Works, the nonprofit whose mission is to put paint brushes into kids’ hands, and the Munroe Street coffee shop have teamed up to present Art Motivates People, the work of eight teens created during a free, six-week summer program.

Elijah Fernandez, 14, a ninth-grader at KIPP Academy, created a painting of mostly grays with just a touch of color. He said the idea came from “The Curious Garden,” Peter Brown’s book about a boy who finds a struggling garden and takes care of it and as time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark city,  transforming it into a lush world.

“I created a world without color,” he said. “There’s a red robot that’s a little different and he decides to go around and bring color to the world.”

Fernandez used the skills learned during the summer class on the painting.

“I really like painting and art and I learned a bunch of new things, like how to use shade with paints,” he said.

Kaylyn Sverker, a 14-year-old Salem High School student, depicted a green monster atop a bed. Her inspiration? Children’s author Dr. Seuss.

“We had to draw something from a children’s story and I chose Seuss because I liked his drawings, how free and random he was and that’s how I like to draw, he kind of inspired me,” she said. “I hope when people see it they get that and realize I made it my own.”

During the summer session, Sverker said she realized that a career in art is possible.

“I draw a lot,” she said. “Lots of people have seen my work and I’ve received so many comments of how amazing it is.”

Jennifer Lopez, 17, a student at Lynn Classical High School, painted a portrait of a man in dark tones that was inspired from a picture of a girl she saw in an Indian newspaper.

“I added my own style and changed it up,” she said. “I hope people who look at it can see that I’m from Guatemala.”

Unlike the others, Lopez is unsure if she will pursue art after graduation.

“I know it’s difficult, but not impossible,” she said.

Bruce Orr, RAW’s group leader and art instructor, said AMP is designed to keep young people’s artistic interest going and teach them new techniques.

“We challenge them to think deeper about what their work means and use it as a tool for getting a message across and bring people together,” he said.

Abigail Cissel, the coffee shop’s general manager, said she has wanted to work with RAW Arts, who are Lynn neighbors.

“We have a similar vision,” she said. “We are all about young people and watching them flourish. We have the wall space and wanted to open it and welcome the artist community.”

The show will continue through September.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected]

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