A col­lab­o­ra­tion between North­eastern University’s African Amer­ican Master Artists-​​in-​​Residence Pro­gram (AAMARP) and the Hawthorne Youth and Com­mu­nity Center in Rox­bury this summer enabled local youths to explore their artistic sides, engage in dis­cus­sion of wide-​​ranging issues, develop lead­er­ship abil­i­ties and strengthen their career skills.

Ten stu­dents, from middle school to col­lege, spent six weeks building wooden boxes and painting them to create self-​​expressive designs through the center’s Project W.O.W. (World of Wood/​Worldof Work).The AAMARP, an adjunct of the Depart­ment of African Amer­ican Studies and a Stony Brook Ini­tia­tive partner, fea­tured the stu­dents’ work at a recep­tion in Jamaica Plain on Friday.

But the summer pro­gram incor­po­rated more than wood­working and art. Other work­shops focused on com­pleting job appli­ca­tions, par­tic­i­pating in mock inter­views and preparing résumés. Stu­dents explored social jus­tice issues such as racial pro­filing and stereo­typing, with dis­cus­sions focused on national issues such as Arizona’s new immi­gra­tion law and per­sonal issues affecting teenagers.

The stu­dents were encour­aged to incor­po­rate social jus­tice themes into their cre­ations. They learned how to use wood­working tools and make proper mea­sure­ments, and how to design with inks, acrylics and water­colors. “It was a lot of fun to teach them and then see what they could pro­duce,” said Jef­frey Chan­dler, an AAMARP artist who led the hands-​​on instruc­tion in woodworking.

Taylor Mck­innon, a 15-​​year-​​old stu­dent at Boston Latin Academy, said she learned a great deal about wood­working through the pro­gram, and was so inspired she chal­lenged her­self to build a door on one of her boxes. “I wanted to make it look unique,” she said.

Glo­retta Baynes, chair of artists for the AAMARP, said the pro­gram has a long-​​standing rela­tion­ship with the Hawthorne center. She was thrilled AAMARP could host the exhibit, adding that it was a great expe­ri­ence for the youths to learn how to orga­nize an art gallery.

The center’s Project W.O.W. pro­gram is funded by a grant from the Barr Foun­da­tion in part­ner­ship with Health Resources in Action. The Boston Foun­da­tion also sup­ported the program.

The stu­dents’ work was unveiled to the public on Aug. 27, and will remain on exhibit by appoint­ment at the AAMARP on Atherton Street in Jamaica Plain through Friday, Sept. 3. To arrange a visit, please con­tact Glo­retta Baynes at (617) 373‑3329 or gloretta@​gmail.​com.

About AAMARP
The African Amer­ican Master Artists-​​in-​​Residence Pro­gram (AAMARP) is a center of excel­lence in mul­ti­cul­tural visual and per­forming arts ded­i­cated to cre­ating an enriching cul­tural envi­ron­ment for a diverse com­mu­nity through exhi­bi­tions, con­certs, per­for­mances, lec­tures and work­shops. Founded in 1977 by Dana Chan­dler, AAMARP today pro­vides studio space for artists whose work has made an invalu­able con­tri­bu­tion to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and to the vitality of the African-​​American art scene in Boston and throughout the nation. It remains a promi­nent center for dis­cus­sion of the African Dias­pora cul­tural growth and devel­op­ment, and has served as a link between North­eastern, the local com­mu­nity and artists around the world for more than 30 years.