Richard is a 13-year-old that I’ve mentored for seven years. He is going to high school next year and looking for and applying for high schools in Chicago is more daunting then when started looking a colleges over a decade ago. And he has to get scholarships for the private schools. He does this because he does not want to attend his local public school. It’s not a good education or even a safe environment. He is very enthusiastic about art – drawing, photography, etc. – all things I also. He stays after school to work with his art teacher since he has not other access to formal training.
In his search for schools, the only thing he’s really concerned with is whether they have a good art department and good art classes. He is also looking at art high schools – Chicago Academy for the Arts and ChiArt. In conversation with his father I have to explain that they are not just art schools but they have the core academics as well. In fact he would be in school more hours of the day in art school than in any other school. These schools are a lot of work and time. Richard is excited about that and his dedication is awe inspiring.
We have gone on photo outings in the city and participated in Chicago Artist’s Coalitions Chicago 20/20. (We both had work in the exhibition.) On these outings I let him use one of my digital SLR’s, put it automatic, and show him where the shutter is and how to use the zoom. Recently he’s asked me to show him how to really use the camera. He wanted to know how to use shutter speed and aperature. His dad bought a used analog/film Nikon with a 50mm lens and we went iceskating with the program that orcastrates the montorship and scholarships for the kids. We didn’t actually ice skate. We took photos and I tested my photography knowledge by teaching it. Richard picked it up super fast and is applying what his art teacher has tought him about drawing and compisition. This cross application of knowledge seems to come easy to him and will be very valuable as he progresses in his practice or in anything he does. I am excited to watch him grow up and fortunate that we have very similar interests. I wonder how much my passion for art has rubbed off on him? I hope he’s come to this on his own, but I guess it doesn’t matter. He is doing what he wants.