Artist Spotlight: Brian McCormick

Native New Yorker Brian McCormick caught the “artist bug” as a teenager. He discovered his talent and love of theater as a junior artist with the Port Washington Play Troupe, spending summers acting, singing and dancing. Brian didn’t pursue a career in the performing arts; however, his passion for the arts led him to an interest in creative writing and eventually teaching the arts to New York City’s young people.

A natural educator, Brian volunteered in NYC with homeless youth through StreetWork, coordinating a weekly writing workshop and later volunteered with the Youth Enrichment Services program at The NYC LGBT Community Center, after his undergraduate studies at SUNY Binghamton. His volunteer work made such an impact that he received the Mayor’s Volunteer Service Award and a President’s Volunteer Service Action Award Nomination during that period of time.  When asked what motivated him to start teaching young people, Brian responded with, “…the interest to create an environment and vehicle in which marginalized voices could speak and be heard, and transmitted more broadly—back then we produced ‘zines—before the internet, in the late 80s.”

By the mid-90s, his experiences and recognition and a newly earned Master’s degree from The New School led to a job as a part-time assistant professor teaching Media Studies at the same university, a position he still holds today.  Brian also continued to write for various publications on topics including the arts, dance, and advocacy for the LGBTQ community. In the early 2000’s, Brian’s support of Dance Theater Workshop (now called New York Live Arts) linked him to ArtsConnection’s Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC), an art-criticism writing program. Brian has been teaching Media and Multi-arts TRaC ever since.

If you ask a high school student in Brian’s TRaC group what they love about the program, more often than not their response includes Brian as their reason for attending and signing up for another semester of the workshop. Rightly so. His passion to convey to young people that art matters—that it’s more than just notions of beauty; that young people matter—that their thoughts and feelings are important—drives his work. When asked why he does this work with young people, he responds, “This is work? It’s massively fun and edifying and inspirational to hang out with young people and hear their thoughts; to introduce them to new ideas; to challenge preconceived notions; to make space where they can share and learn from each other. To create opportunities for young people to raise their voices, their vision; to help craft their writing and crystallize their thoughts and feelings they want to express about art, culture, and the life from which they arise.”

As a student in Brian’s TRaC group, you can expect to be mentored by a passionate and dedicated educator, travel to various visual and performance art spaces around the city, see a multitude of artwork, be introduced to working arts and culture professionals, and create a compilation of digital media work and writing by the end of a semester. It’s not unusual for his students to discover their talents and passion during their teen years, just as he did when he was their age.

“This is work? It’s massively fun and edifying and inspirational to hang out with young people and hear their thoughts; to introduce them to new ideas; to challenge preconceived notions; to make space where they can share and learn from each other. To create opportunities for young people to raise their voices, their vision; to help craft their writing and crystallize their thoughts and feelings they want to express about art, culture, and the life from which they arise.”
– Brian McCormick

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