AC teens tour New York’s art centers, a staff member says goodbye, and more…

Teens visit New York City’s artistic hotspots with Map Free City! 

One of the best parts about living in New York City is the access to a variety of cultural and art centers. But in bustle of daily life, it can be difficult to find the time to actually visit these institutions—especially for students.

Enter Map Free City. ArtsConnection’s annual summer program which takes teens on arts-related field trips across all five boroughs. For the past month, high schoolers have enjoyed a hybrid learning experience: two Zoom sessions per week ahead of an in-person meet up at one of New York’s creative gems every Thursday.

Students joined teaching artist Brian McCormick in exploring Socrates Sculpture Garden and the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, The High Line in Manhattan, Streb Laboratory for Action Mechanics in Williamsburg, and lastly, Governor’s Island.

After a long year of learning from home, it’s exciting to see the students engage with the artistic side of city again!


Kristina Gonzalez on six years at ArtsConnection


For this month’s newsletter and ahead of her departure from ArtsConnection, we’re highlighting Teen Programs Manager Kristina Gonzalez‘s impact on our organization.  

Before Kristina helped to facilitate teen programs, she participated in them.

A South Brooklyn native, she attended Leon M. Goldstein High School. She first learned of ArtsConnection through our Student Art Program, and upon submission, her photography was selected to exhibit. “To see [my] artwork hung in a professional setting,” she remembers, “I had never felt more proud.” Little did she know she would eventually help other teen artists feel the same way.

After graduating FIT and a brief stint in corporate advertising, she realized she wanted a more supportive work environment. “Immediately, when I saw the [ArtsConnection] job posting, there was this overwhelming feeling of relief.” Over the course of her six years at ArtsConnection, Kristina has worn many hats: she began as an office receptionist, then a Program Coordinator, and eventually settled into her role as one of the organization’s Teen Programs Managers.

We asked her to reflect on her time with ArtsConnection.

A career highlight? Helping kick start OnTRaC, ArtsConnection’s college and career readiness program, which is now entering its fourth year.

A standout Teens Curate Teens (TCT) exhibit? The student exhibition exploring gun violence, “In More Ways Than One.”

What she’ll miss most about ArtsConnection? “The first thing that comes to mind is the people,” she admits, “teens, staff, artists, everyone.”

What are some things the students have taught her? “I love eavesdropping on their conversations,” she jokes, “they’re so hilarious.” But they’ve also broadened her horizons; not just with their knowledge on social issues, but by teaching her not to make assumptions. She recalls how, at first during remote learning, it was concerning to see students enter virtual class with their cameras turned off, seemingly disengaged. But that wasn’t necessarily the case. “Assume best intentions,” she told herself, “ask if [students would prefer] to talk on the phone, if they wanted to text instead.” She learned that every student comes from different circumstances which affects their educational needs.

What’s next? She’s off to California to start her own business, centered around astrology and spiritual healing.

“I’m just so thankful that I’ve been able to be a part of programming for young people that celebrates them as artists and shows them what’s possible.” The feeling is mutual. We’ll miss you, Kristina!

Kristina Gonzalez at the Student Art Program exhibit in 2010.

Teaching Artist Spotlight:
Nami Kagami

Nami Kagami started working with ArtsConnection in 1999. Born and raised in Japan, she trained with Masako Kaji. She graduated from Hofstra University with B.A. in Dance with honors and continued to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and Peridance Center.

She’s since utilized her gift for imparting a love and understanding of dance to young people by assisting fellow teaching artist Kim Grier-Martinez in the Young Talent Program, Dance for Life, DELLTA (Developing English Language Literacy Through the Arts) Program—just to name a few.

In addition to teaching, she is currently a principal dancer and assistant director with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company.

Photo courtesy of Todd Jones. 
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