Birmingham News (AL)
Carla Caldwell News staff writer
HAYES MIDDLE SCHOOL NEWS STAFF PHOTO/HAL YEAGER Hayes Middle School students Clarence “Bucky” Jones Jr., 13, left, and Harold Davis, 13, explain how they made “She-Bot.” The robot is on exhibit at Space One Eleven along with the work of several other Hayes students.
Hayes Middle School student Carmen Young says she’s known most of her life she wanted to be an artist.
“I started drawing when I was real little,” the eighthgrader said as she pointed to one of several of her works featured at a gallery opening at Space One Eleven, 2409 Second Ave. North.
“In the future, I may become an artist,” she added.
Professional artists with Space One Eleven, an artistoperated organization that promotes local talent, offers art classes and hosts exhibits at its Second Avenue North studios.
The adults say that Carmen and several of her schoolmates are, indeed, artists.
Throughout the 1992-1993 school year, Space One Eleven offered art classes for any Hayes student interested in creative expression.
Attendance was sporadic at times, in part because other activities, including sports, were going on after school, according to Hayes Middle School visual arts teacher Irene Porter.
But Carmen and eight other students rarely missed the two-hour classes offered twice each week.
Work by each of the students is on exhibit at Space One Eleven.
Space One Eleven’s Anne Arrasmith said obtaining money for the program took some work, but it was worth the effort, she said.
“Two years ago, some of my artist friends learned that the Governor’s Office on Drug and Alcohol Prevention Abuse gets federal money from the sale of cars and jewelry that are confiscated.
“We got in our cars and went off to Montgomery. We told them we had a way to use the money. We told them to give us the money to teach inner-city kids art for free.
“We told them we’d keep the kids off the streets, teach them self-esteem and self-worth, and we’d pay artists in Birmingham to help create the next generation of creative young adults,” Mrs. Arrasmith said.
Space One Eleven secured a $20,000 grant to pay for the 1992-1993 school program and another program being offered to young artists living at Metropolitan Gardens. The group has applied for a $25,000 grant to con-tinue the program next year.
Space One Eleven selected Hayes, Mrs. Arrasmith said, because the art studio and the East Birmingham school are neighbors.
“We are community-based. These are the children who we are most closely related to, and because there was a desire on the part of that particular community to participate.
“They wanted to come. Their teachers, their families, their school wanted them to have the experience. And so it was up to us to provide it. We said come on over, we’ll get the artists to teach the kids and provide the space and the materials,” she said.
As to the program’s goal, she said emphatically:
“Are we training kids to be artists? No. I am training kids to be creative. And that may mean that they may be the next generation’s rocket scientist, or the next generation’s writer. We are teaching them to be creative, to have self-worth, and that there are lot of activites in life that aren’t negative.”
Clarence “Bucky” Jones Jr. is a seventh-grade student.
“Bucky,” for example, says he wants to be a drag racer. The car of his choice, a ’57 Chevy, is just a dream right now, he said. But in the art program, he used his imagination to create the wood-sculpture car of his dreams. In big black letters on the roof of the sleek wooden car are the numbers 60-0.
“Bucky” flashed a smile when asked about the numbers. “That represents wins and losses. That’s 60 wins and 0 losses, of course,” he said.
Painter/instructor Susan Oliver said she can’t say enough about the students.
Almost constantly during the exhibit, Ms. Oliver prodded the young artists to mention their particular accomplishments.
Carmen, for example, admitted after some prodding that she has applied – highly recommended – to the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
“Carmen is extremely talented,” said Ms. Oliver, “as are all of our young people. These young adults can take scraps of paper and turn them into a thing of beauty.”
Among the works are several by Bucky, including “The Prayer for Peace” a wood sculpture of a featureless man sitting atop a church pew. Jones said the prayer is for “an end to violence and racism.”
Carmen displayed several of her works including a colorful painting titled “Excitement,” and a wood sculpture interpretation of an old Chinese village.
Chris Giles, 12, a seventh-grader from Inglenook, displayed work including “Underground Railroad.” The dramatic painting features a gray stone railroad tunnel that is dark inside. The only color in the painting is a bright yellow multi-pointed star at the end of the tunnel.
Chris said the light represents “the freedom blacks realized when freed from slavery.”
Harold Davis, 13, displayed work including “”Church of God,” a wood sculpture of a stark, white, triangleshaped church with a red cross mounted over the front door. Speckles of red paint are visible all over the building. Harold said the paint represents “the blood of Christ.”
Ms. Oliver, who continued to teach art classes long after money to pay for her services was depleted, said she couldn’t have found a more gratifying way to spend her time.