Teen artists put talents on display

The brick building that sits at 18 Samoset Street is unique. Tucked in behind St. Mark’s, the building houses the offices of College Bound Dorchester and many of the programs that it runs. It is also the location of the Dot Community Center for the Visual Arts (DotArt) office — on loan from College Bound Dorchester — on the third floor. This summer, however, the building is also home to the summer art program run by Dot Art each year. Tonight, the teen artists will be unveiling a summer of hard work at My World: An Exhibition of Young Artists’ Work.

The exhibition, which will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will feature work from this year’s program, Portraits, People, and Places, in the boardroom at 18 Samoset Street. Food and drink will be provided. The artwork on display will be for sale during the exhibition and through a silent auction with the proceeds being split 50-50 between the program and the artist.

This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to the artists, who range from age 14 to 18 years old. Many had never been given the opportunity to experience an art class, but here they get to draw, paint, and learn how to write artist statements.

The program allows the artists to explore their talents as well as their drive. Dante Clark-Morgan, 15, realized that drawing and painting enabled him to visually put his ideas onto paper. When asked if he was excited for the exhibition he said, “This is my first one, so I’m feeling a little nervous.”

It is a feeling that he and his fellow teen artists almost missed out on. After 11 years of summer programs, Dot Art found itself facing the possibility that it would not be able to run a program this summer. Its funding had been cut earlier this year and without the money, Dot Art could not rent an art room for the program. And while the program keeps the teens active from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., five days a week for seven weeks, it is more than just a time-consuming summer program.

Dot Art actually employs these young artists. Each artist is sponsored by the Private Industry Council, the Boston Youth Fund, or Action for Boston Community Development for $8 per hour. So, these teens receive the paycheck that they may have searched for in odd jobs while simultaneously receiving intellectual enrichment. This enrichment is of extreme importance according to Leslie MacWeeney, founder of Dot Art.

“The corporate world wants creative thinkers,” she says, “Art teaches creative problem solving. It frees the student into a different sphere of thinking.”