It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. When most teens are still asleep, a dedicated few gather for AIGA San Diego LINK at Space4Art, a studio in downtown’s East Village.
LINK is an AIGA San Diego program that connects teens in need with artists and creative professionals, encouraging expression, creativity and self-esteem through innovative workshops and educational scholarships. Every year, students are recruited who will benefit from the artistic, motivational, and financial assistance to establish career and life goals.
Working professionals in the design, photography, illustration, and other creative fields teach ten workshops a year for the students. Workshops include comic books with Eric J, photography with Nick Nacca, and shoe painting with Chris Toombs.
“It’s so fun. The kids are so inspiring and so are the mentors. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning,” says LINK Director Karen Morrison of Karen Morrison Photography.
At a time when funding for arts education is being cut, LINK helps expose kids to new things.
“LINK offers a lot of opportunities you can’t get anywhere else,” said Jorge, a student.
“LINK is able to give you more opportunities and variety to test out different types of art that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own,” says Anna, a student.
“It inspired us to do more art outside the workshops,” reports Erin.
Mentors, who are also working creatives, are on hand each week to assist the kids. They find it very rewarding, “The students make you a better person, not the other way around.” says mentor Matt Dominguez. “The whole reason I got involved with LINK was because it was an opportunity for kids to get more involved and help define their path.”
“For me, it’s not just about art, it’s about creative thinking with others and being empowered to explore that,” says Morrison.
LINK is made possible through the generosity of the The Richard and Jean Coyne Family Foundation. Last year, over $5,000 in college scholarships was awarded to deserving graduating students.
The LINK year always ends with an art show of the kids’ work. So put April 7 on your calendar and come support the next generation of design. If you would like to get involved with the LINK program, please contact Karen Morrison at email@example.com.