All children deserve to be empowered to forge a bright, healthy, creative future. And in a wonderful example of how two organizations are coming together to mark this idea in a very special way, Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a specially commissioned piece of artwork. The art is being created by teenagers from a Maryland-based organization, Arts on the Block (AOB).
The teens, two of whom have food allergies themselves, began working on this custom-designed KFA mural as a group project at the end of last year. The glass tile mural, which will eventually measure six feet tall, will illustrate KFA’s work dedicated to keeping children safe and healthy until a cure for food allergy is found. Upon completion, the artwork will be on display in the Landover, Maryland office of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). KFA is a division of AAFA.
AOB is a unique nonprofit that teaches Washington DC area youth ages 12 to 20 about the intersection between art, design and business. In one of their programs, called Pour Your ART Out, teens work as paid apprentices after school and on Saturday morning, working on commissioned art projects for clients. The projects range from park benches to large-scale murals for private clients.
Arts on the Block student working on KFA's mural.
The mission of AOB, founded in 2003, is to empower creative young people to imagine and shape fulfilling futures and contribute to the quality of life in their communities. It is a rigorous program. The teens, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, apply to AOB through a competitive process, which includes an interview and a portfolio review. The kids must also demonstrate a strong artistic passion and interest in working in the field.
The teens are led by teaching artist Sarah Hurtt, who holds a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking as well as a Master of Arts in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
“Part of our goal is to offer opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them,” said Hurtt. In addition to earning a stipend, the kids also earn service learning hours for their school.
Future blog posts will feature the teens working on the KFA mural through later stages of completion. The mural will unveiled during a special celebration in May – stay tuned!