Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “At a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” If you want some questions to ask your kid sister or a nephew, check out these 20 creative inquiries for children from Minds in Bloom.
So as we face a time of challenge and change, it is time to rev up our curiosity. Let’s start asking ourselves good questions that could lead to something beautiful. Here are three to start:
Why are you here today? This question could make you probe deep into your purpose in life. Or it could simply help you focus on a short-term goal or project that merits your energy and attention right now. The here could refer to your neighborhood, your city, the world – or even your dining room table.
What will you create that shines hope or heroism, demands justice or gives aid to the powerless? This question focuses on your creativity and how you will use it for the greater good. How will you make something that will contribute to the raising of consciousness or the reduction of racism? What wrong will you challenge or what hero will you highlight?
Use these questions as a starting point for conversations with roommates or with family. Or write about them in your journal. Doodle ideas during inktober and draw maps that lead you to a better, brighter more beautiful future.
They live in Detroit, of course, and Hamtramck, Holly and Fraser. They work in crayons, acrylic or watercolor paint, ink and many other mediums. Their creativity and work are as fresh as the latest headlines – and as timeless as the puppy who is part of one child’s picture.
They are the eleven winners of the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition, winners, winners whose diversity and creativity make them wonderful representations of Detroit and of Mint Artists Guild’s hopes and expectations.
“We hope for better things, in Detroit. We rise from the ashes, each day, to build our communities. The Youth Arts Competition is a manifestation of our uniquely Detroit spirit of hustle and hope,” said Will ‘The Poet’ Langford. Langford worked with Mint co-founder Vickie Elmer to hustle to launch and develop the competition, starting in June. They both serve on Mint’s board of directors.
The winners range from kindergarden to college and chose a wide variety of subjects for their art and poetry. Mint intends to share more of their stories and work in future blog and social media posts, so here briefly are our 2020 winners:
Moumita Chawdhury, 18, Hamtramck, “Unifying, The Hope of a New Beginning,” oil pastels and colored pencils from Bangladesh.
Ishaan Kundapur, 13, Northville. “Beautiful Detroit: Birthplace of the Auto Industry,” water color. (Mint greeting card winner)
Sydney Lenn, 17, Fraser. “No Justice, No Peace.” Black and white photograph.
Ife Martin, 16, West Bloomfield. Silence. Spoken word poem.
Tahlia Ray, 16, Detroit. “Unity.” Fiber art.
Arise Elisabeth Rock, 15, Detroit. “The Ascension” three-part acrylic painting. And City of People, poem. (Yes, she won twice, though the judges did not know that.)
Justus Smith, 10, Detroit. “Rising from the Ashes.” Mixed media piece.
Fae Taylor, 6, Hazel Park. “The Daytime.” Mixed media with crayons.
Fiona Taylor, 5, Hazel Park. “Puppy’s eyes.” Mixed media with paint. (Yes they are sisters and yes, the puppy piece is adorable!)
Several of the pieces reflected the Black Lives Matter movement or the covid-19 crisis that engulfed the world and how art brings us together in trying times. Others shared the beauty of Detroit, with its leafy trees and lovely streets. About a third of the winners created based on each of our three themes: Detroit is beautiful, art as a unifier and Detroit’s “we rise from the ashes” motto.
Winners were chosen by current Mint Artists, our alumni, professional artists and writers and two of Mint’s co-founders. All of the winning art will be professionally framed by Jo’s Gallery or Sherwood Forest Art Gallery. And all the winners receive a prize package and $225 in cash prizes, underwritten by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and individual donors. Then the art will go on display in Detroit at our partner businesses and at a Mint Showcase along Livernois, known as “the Avenue of Fashion.” Our two poetry winners will share their spoken word in public too. (Winners will receive their art back by yearend to hang in their place of honor. Follow Mint on Facebook or Instagram for details on showings.)
“We want to celebrate youth creativity and business generosity in a competition focused on Detroit’s beauty and resilience and on art as a unifying influence in today’s challenging world,” said Elmer.
Many many art fairs have been canceled or postponed since March, when states and countries began closing down to protect individuals from COVID-19. Mint Artists Guild artists are not able to sell at the Palmer Park Art Fair and others are in jeopardy this summer.
Our artists have missed out on at least four pop ups, including one in the historic Alger Theater on Detroit’s East Side.
And yet we knew that our artists had been making art during their shelter at home time. They have worked hard – and some of them are working peacefully to confront racism and unfair treatment. Many face big bills ahead as they prepare to head to the University of Michigan, Georgia State University, College for Creative Studies and elsewhere in the fall.
So Mint Artists Guild is jumping into the unknown by creating its first ever Virtual Art Fair this Saturday, June 6. Please register here, and invite your friends. Plan to buy something for your Dad, your grad or yourself. Or plan a brunch and invite in three friends and munch and watch and buy. The Virtual Art Fair will stream live on our Facebook page and also on our YouTube channel.
We want our young artists to sell their work on Saturday – or through the next week. Yet we know that times are tight and so we need to seek other benefits and possibilities from creating this new event. Here are three of them.
Connect. This new online format gives us wider reach well beyond the Michigan border. With a virtual fair, buyers may live in Dallas or the Mississippi Delta, Queens or Quebec. Our Mint greeting cards could end up in a gallery in San Francisco or Sanabel Island and so could artists Michael Johnson or Omari June Norman. We think this is important for all artists to grow their audience and connect in new cities.
Learn. We knew our artists could learn a lot by preparing for the Mint Virtual Art Fair. So we created a workshop that taught them to create an artist studio tour video and to share some of their tricks and techquines. Their videos are an integral part of the fair – and will be valuable to them for future events too. We are helping them refine their pricing of their art. They are learning too how to focus on and manage multiple priorities: school, their creative work, family needs and for some, Black Lives Matter and other peaceful campaigns.
“I always want to stay focused on who I am, even as I’m discovering who I am,” singer Alicia Keys has said. She’s not performing on Saturday but we have two other amazing musicians who will: Sky Covington and Mahogany Jones.
Pivot. We want Mint to model adaptability and an entrepreneurial ability to seek out new and different opportunities. We may not know as much about the digital world as Microsoft, Netflix or Quicken Loans, but we can develop an online sales platform and create new ways of connecting with people through art and storytelling.
You will meet them all the artists on Saturday, so today I will just tell you that they are wonderful and creative and work in a wide variety of mediums: duct tape, oil paint, photography, mixed media, sterling silver wire and acrylic paint. Every day we are adding new pieces of their work to the Mint Shop. Yes, everything already is for sale – and our seven artists and alumni receive almost all the proceeds. Mint takes a 20 percent commission, one of the lowest among nonprofits in Michigan, and charges no fees to join our programs.
“The pessimist seems difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty,” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill one said. We are the optimists who know that this time, so difficult and horrifying and uncertain, will open doors and create new paths for Mint and for our artists.
Picture a summer job and you may imagine something quaint and outdoorsy: a life guard, camp counselor, caddy or park attendant. Or perhaps you recall your first summer job scooping Italian ice, mowing lawns or fixing fast food.
Yet for many teens, paid work is more likely to be imaginary than real, despite many benefits these jobs bring. Only about a third of teens worked for pay in 2018, and that has trended down for two decades, according to the Pew Research Center. The employment rate is likely to tumble further this year, as record unemployment and businesses closed during the pandemic will mean less hiring for young people. “Paid jobs are scarcer than a Stanford admission,” The Washington Post reported recently.
Mint Artists Guild is an exception, hiring 30 percent more young artists from Detroit and creating more opportunities for work in Detroit. We do this because the need is great and so is the payoff for those hired and their communities. Summer jobs create many positive outcomes, some immediate and some years after the last campfire or painting is finished. Here’s a look at benefits documented by many academic and other researchers:
Opportunities grow. Summer jobs may increase college aspiration and community engagement and they definitely reduce inequality, researchers found.
Safer cities. Several studies showed reductions in violent crime by up to 43 percent among youth participating in summer jobs, and jobs also lower rates of incarceration in another study. The reduction in youth crime lasted for 15 months after the summer job ended.
Wellbeing improves. Youth or adults who are employed experience boosts in wellbeing, self-esteem and life satisfaction, just by working eight hours a week. Researchers also note they are more likely to get through trying circumstances than others.
Future earnings. Working during college, whether part-time or full-time, leads to to higher earnings after graduation. This research by Rutgers University and others is based on 160,000 students; jobs add to students’ networks, skills and post-college paychecks. The amount varied from $1,035 to $20,625. But the post-college premium showed up for a wide variety of students, regardless of their race, type of university or previous work experience.
Academic achievement rises. In the year after summer jobs in Boston, researchers calculated a “small but significant” improvement in GPAs. Young workers were also more likely to graduate from high school on time. Academic improvements were “particularly large” when youth in New York were hired for several summers in a row. “Participating in summer jobs programming for multiple years pays dividends for high school students well beyond the paycheck itself,” New York University researchers wrote.
Mint’s summer creative jobs program teaches productivity and professionalism as well as painting and artistic skills. We will create original paintings for our fifth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. This year, the jobs will take place from youth homes, as required by our partner Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, and will feature new online workshops on managing clients, writing an artist statement and digital work etiquette.
If you want to support our Lucky 13 artists, we invite you to donate to our spring fundraiser – or become a monthly donor now.
Create. Contemplate. Create some more.Then market your work.
These are the steps 1XRun co-founder Jesse Cory recommends to emerging artists, to any artists who want to advance their work and themselves.Artists must understand and articulate their message, their why, he said. They learn that from contemplation – and by creating a lot of work.Cory was the guest expert at a Mint Artists Guild workshop on pricing work confidently.
“Be bold. Tell people why you make art,” Cory said, giving his best advice to emerging artists.
He and the 1xRun team select new artists based on three main factors:
Build your talents. They want to be able to see the time dedicated to improving an artist’s craft.
Develop a defined aesthetic , or a cohesive color palate.
Know your mission. Artists must be clear about why they make the art they create.
“You have to make hundreds and hundreds of pieces of art work,” he said. His art print company 1xRun needs 30 to 40 pieces from one artist to create an edition or series.
1xRun was established in 2010 by Cory, whose background is in marketing, video production and documentaries, and Dan Armand, who previously worked as a web designer and artist. The two developed two art galleries, both now closed, and much more. In its first five years of business, 1xRun sold more than $5 million in art prints, original art and services. Sales are rising, even during the pandemic, Cory said.
During the Mint workshop, he gave a simple formula for pricing limited edition prints:Set the price for your original piece, then divide it by the number of prints you plan to make. That’s the price of the prints. So a $300 painting with 15 prints means each print is worth around $20.
1xRun’s model calls for a 50-50 split with artists on print sales, after the company recoups its production costs. Cory suggested artists “don’t hold on too tight” to their work.
“You have to humanize yourself to the collector,” he said, by sharing photos of yourself as well as your work on Instagram.His collection was built with wife Roula David, who worked in restaurants and now leads their Murals in the Market festival. They buy work mainly from artists they work with on the festival or in 1XRun, because Cory said, they have meaning or “memorialize” a relationship or moment in time.
Hubert Massey creates massive public art pieces, like the fresco at TCF Center and large mosaics in parks and overpasses in Detroit, Flint and elsewhere.
Most of his projects take months to complete. Yet most of them start with ideas, and sketches. Massey, who is a co-founder and a board member of Mint Artists Guild, is staying home now, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down. He’s creating smaller pieces – paintings, sketches and an obelisk prototype for a public art piece.
“I still don’t have enough time in the day,” he said. He runs Hubert Massey Murals, which brings together artists, engineers, community groups and businesses to create large public art projects.
“I have the habit of getting up early in the morning,” Massey told Mint. He starts with breakfast and a smidgen of news. Then Massey turns on jazz music and turns to work on the creative project for the day. By 3 pm
many days, he’s finishing up and ready to take a walk.
Developing such habits and a schedule help with productivity, Massey said. “Start at a certain time…. Schedule your work hours.”
Here’s three more tips from Hubert Massey on staying creative and productive:
Create a list. Artists need a projects list, where they capture the ideas they may want to pursue, he said. His list includes painting portraits of some other well-known Detroit artists such as Michael Horner and home improvement projects. Keep your list updated and look online for ideas.
Set goals. Know what you want to complete by the time everything is opened up and go after it. Or set smaller goals. Massey enjoys watching documentaries related to science and art, and suggests emerging artists watch one a day of an artist or musician.
Engage with others. Massey likes to hold community forums and ask questions and hear stories. Start this on your social media, or with a conference call with five or seven people. Ask questions such as “what are 10 images you want hanging on your wall?” he suggested.
Don’t worry if your art supplies are thin or nonexistent. Use whatever you find around the home – newsprint or recycled materials or paint on old bowls. “If you’ve got a pencil, then draw,” Massey told Mint.
“You have to be strong within yourself and do what makes you happy.”
Watch for more insights on creatives managing themselves and their work in future posts.
There’s never been a better time to become more frugal and save some money. No matter your age or stage, no matter if you have a full ride scholarship to a prestigious university or see community college making sense, many signs point to the power of spending less for a while.
The coronavirus outbreak will mean far fewer summer jobs this year and far more unpaid bills. Many families will have huge hospital bills to pay, or loved ones who died or are unable to work for weeks. So while economists and politicians debate how long the economy will be hurting, individuals need to start saving.
Here’s some advice for young people that works well for all people:
Create an emergency fund. The world is unpredictable and honestly, sometimes frightening. So even if you think you will never need it, build a fund for if things do go off track. That promised summer job or commission could evaporate in the economic downturn. Start saving money to cover your basic expenses – mobile phone, Netflix and some food – for at least three months. Bankrate suggests six months and offers many tips on getting there.
Set a clear goal. If you see it, say it, share it and write it down, you may believe it. Know why you’re saving money now – half could be for your emergency savings and half for something brighter and more beautiful. Decide how the extra savings will be valuable to you, whether it’s a new tablet, a huge canvas to paint or a trip to New Orleans or Nigeria, once the world is a safer place.
Do it yourself. With so many Americans sheltering at home, now seems like the perfect time to learn to manicure your nails, wash and press your shirts or make smoothies or coffee as good as the $4.50 cuppajoe you used to buy. Or style your hair yourself, as Laila Ali, daughter of the late legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, does. Laila Ali is a fitness and wellness entrepreneur, yet every week she skips the salon and does her hair and her daughter’s at home. “I don’t have time to drive an hour to a salon and then sit there for a couple more hours getting my hair done. It’s really not that serious or important to me,” she told Kiplinger.com in a
Cultivate frugal habits. Start developing your thrifty mindset now, while there’s fewer temptations and no where to go. Instead of a subscription to Hulu, see if your public library has free access to movies and shows. Skip the takeout food in favor of some pasta cooked at home. Take a three hour break before you buy anything that costs more than say $75, to see if it still seems worthwhile – and to shop around for a bargain price.
Play money games. Yes, you may learn a lot from Monopoly, The Game of Life or Minecraft. Check out online games recommended by The Balance, which says and role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons may have valuable lessons in managing money and resources. Or create your own at home and start teaching your younger siblings some money basics.
Our next money management piece will share podcasts, blogs and other ways to learn and develop your money management skills and frugal self.
We all deserve a boost after being at home for anywhere from nine to 15 days. So here’s some recipes for boosting yourself – by trying some new artsy activities or preparing yourself to land a summer job.
These activities may seem frivolous in these challenging times, but they are not. They give you something valuable: Joy and a sense of accomplishment. And they take your mind off the things we cannot control and put them squarely on things we can control – and create.
Sing along to the ’60s. Yes, that will bring on The Beatles hits such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Love Me Do.” But also sing beautiful songs along with Irma Thomas belting “Time Is on My Side” or Aretha Franklin singing “Do Right Woman” and The Temptations “Get Ready.” Select a couple every day from Pitchfork’s list of 200 great ’60s songs. Singing releases endorphins and raises our mood, strengthens our immune system – and calms the brain, researchers have found.
Create a scrap art project. Start saving items from your recycling container and scanning the ground when you take your dog or kid brother out for a walk. Stash egg cartons and cardboard boxes; dry orange peels or scraps of wood. Flatten old cans. Snare mostly empty paint cans from your garage. Then look for inspiration. Or look to the sun or nature for an image. If you are lucky enough to land a free creative learning supplies kit from Arts & Scraps, Mint and Brilliant Detroit, you will have plenty of materials. (These will be distributed free to Detroit families through Brilliant Detroit.)
Create or update your resume. Download a sample resume, especially one for a young person, and use it as a guide. Or follow the excellent advice outlined in The Balance Careers post, starting by writing down all the types of work and awards. Make sure you sell yourself and state why you’ll be an excellent person to hire. You may want to enlist someone to assist you with this and remind you of some of your accomplishments. After you finish your first resume, definitely ask three adults to edit and review it and suggest improvements.
Some people will want to take it a step further: That could look like a LinkedIn profile. Or it could mean a work program, such as Americorps that is hiring soon. If you live in Detroit and are ages 14 to 24, register with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent now to help land a job this summer, including those with Mint for creative youth. If you live elsewhere, see if your city is running a youth employment program and connect to it.
We are sharing some virtual activities on our Facebook page so follow us for those. And we will share some more ideas next week, including some from our creative community. So send us yours today!
In times like these, we all need something beautiful, something that blooms – and something that makes us or the world a little bit better.
If you are out of school or out of a job because of coronavirus, it’s time to get past the basics of hand washing and social distancing. It’s time to grow. In times like these, we need to create something that will last or give joy – and learn something new.
“I try to take every conflict, every experience and learn from it. Life is never dull,” said Oprah Winfrey, the entrepreneur and media mogul. “I consider the world, this Earth, to be like a school, and our life the classrooms.”
So today, start learning and growing and making beauty in one or two of these ways:
Start a garden. Sow seeds to grow beans, kale and peppers, though you will need to start them indoors until the last frost sometime in April. “Such a hopeful and revolutionary act…to grow food,” wrote my friend Kelli Carpenter-Crawford. Need help with this? Check in with Keep Growing Detroit or ask a neighbor who is an experienced gardener for some advice.
Write poetry or create a journal. Document these unusual days, suggested artist Rose Lewandowski, using photos, sketches, snippets of overheard comments and more. Or play with words and write a poem, suggested Nick Rowley, who offers this online guide to the wide variety of poems. If you’ve never written a poem before, read some poetry first or check out the tips from the Young Poets Network.
Volunteer. Choose a safe way to give back in your community. Search VolunteerMatch or the United Way of Southeast Michigan for opportunities. (Check for minimum age requirements on some volunteer roles.) Or look for virtual volunteer opportunities on social media or through friends. Create a half dozen handmade cards that are encouraging and upbeat; then mail them to a nearby senior citizens home. “Those that know shut-ins/ people quarantined call them up and tell or read stories over the phone. Also they could sent videos they’ve created to shut-ins,” suggests my friend Kim Kensler, a travel agent and active volunteer. If you want to volunteer with Mint Artists Guild – help us with a fundraiser or other cool, creative projects – please drop us a line and tell us about yourself.
Make a movie. Create “a short films. Doc, zombie apocalypse, public art video, nature video, whatever,” said Pam Murray. The world put so much on hold now, creating room for storytelling or short videos that are humorous, helpful or encouraging. Mint may share some prompts on this and other creative projects fairly soon.
Make some joy. Create a self portrait as if you were your most dreamed-about zoo animal, or a favorite fruit. “Empty a closet and make up silly stories about the contents. Turn the contents into actors in the story,” writes artist Dolores Slowinski. Make seven paper crowns, wrap each one carefully in a bag with a note declaring the finder a king or queen for a day. Then leave them on benches, tables or other public places. Or bake cookies and eat half and donate half. (Leave a plate for your mail carrier or the package delivery person; take some to a local supermarket for the staff who are working hard – or contact us at Mint!)
Check out our first post for more ideas and share this with a friend who is bored or worried all the time. Then share your best and most creative activities for these trying times in a comment and we may use them in our third post!
Photos: Markus Spiske (plants growing) and Noah Buscher (lemon girl) on Unsplash; Oprah Winfrey quotes from BrainyQute.