By: Alexis Arlett
JLB Arts – Hyde Park is an arts-based volunteer placement that takes place two Saturdays per month at Boston Renaissance Children’s Charter School. The JLB volunteers and a group of 20 young girls meet and delve into the different aspects of artistic expression. Each session has a different lesson and is led by a different volunteer. This placement also takes the girls on local field trips throughout the Boston area to expose them to different theaters, museums, and art studios that they have at their disposal. The Volunteer Leads, Emmie Gerling and Laura Driver, have done a great job building this placement into one that participating girls from previous years want to attend, and there is always a waitlist of more girls who want to join!
This year the leaders have focused on bringing in new girls to the placement and making sure that the activities are different from previous years. They have created a collaborative environment in which the volunteers and girls are learning and exploring art together. This year they have taken dance classes, pottery classes, and created art projects that they then donate to other charities!
On January 27th, I had the pleasure of accompanying JLB Arts – Hyde Park participants to the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was the first time in a few years that the placement had the opportunity to visit this particular museum. As a former Volunteer Lead for this placement myself, it was great to see the girls connect with this different type of art and museum. As part of the museum’s Children’s Day theme of “Play Date: Contemporary Films,” the kids learned how to make their own storyboards and create animated characters using light boxes.
I watched as the girls learned about positive and negative space, and one of the girls commented that she felt like they were mixing science and art. When asked what the girls thought of the exhibits, they told me they had never seen pieces similar to those at the museum. They added that they liked art and joined the placement because they thought that art is “weird;” it allows them to think outside the box and be creative. This volunteer placement has done a fantastic job of exposing young girls to new experiences and allowing them to see that art is not confined to just one technique, but rather is any type of documented expression through an artists’ chosen medium.