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On Joy

Updated: Jun 22

AYB Artist Eden-Nicole Moore getting the message out!

AYB artists are stylistically, culturally, and generationally diverse. We share a social justice, social practice and activist lens that is reflected in our artmaking and teaching, including addressing inequitable art and education access; LGBTQ+ rights; systemic racism; sexism; the carceral system; the degradation of the planet; and more.

Support AYB with PRIDE!

Visit our GoFundMe page to help make AYB Summer Session 2024 possible.


We also have a supply list gathered on Amazon Lists which allows you to purchase specific supplies needed for the program.


Please read through to the bottom of this recap for the details of summer session including class descriptions and roster of teaching artists!



Thanks to ART YARD Artist Jodie Lyn-Kee Chow, in spite of hard times, we started the week focused On Joy in ART YARD Advanced studio on zoom.


Jodie thoughtfully sums up the session: “This week’s lesson “On Joy” allowed us to engage with art-making inspired by “Juneteenth”. Participants used materials and techniques of their choice that expressed joy and freedom as  forms of resistance. We looked at selected works by Henri Matisse, Derrick Adams, Amalia Pica, and Mark di Suvero. 


As a starting point, I briefly introduced Matisse’s “The Joy of Life” for its expressionistic and innovative use of color and figuration.

Henri Matisse, Joy of Life (Bonheur de Vivre), 1905

We then looked at a TATE video of Amalia Pica working on stamped works on paper in her London studio. Here the dated and ‘paid’ stamps are playfully arranged into a rich contrast of opposing colors and patterns.

Amalia Pica,  Joy in Paperwork 342, 2015, ink on paper

Followed by Derrick Adams’ Floater Series which represented Black Joy.


Derrick Adams, How I Spent My Summer, 2021, Suite of nine screenprints with collages  

Lastly, we looked at Mark di Suvero’s “Joie de Vivre”, 1998 sculpture. Adopted in 2011 by the Occupy Wall Street movement it stands as a symbol of proletariat protests.

Mark di Suvero, “Joie de Vivre”, 1998

Given these examples we came up with these artworks in class:


Emily created this stunning collage work of a figure immersed in a sunset. Going to the beach brings her joy.


Emily Sanchez, On Joy

Vee decided to take the joy of challenging themself by creating a self-portrait with their least favorite medium, painting. It’s amazing how much Vee’s work connected to Emily’s with its composition and color.

Vee Tineo, On Joy

Hisla painted a watercolor of a personal memory of a joyful occasion, a birthday party! The gestures of the people here reflect such joy!

Hisla Bates, On Joy

On the party note…I (Jodie) decided to finally make my version of a lightweight beaded curtain in rainbow colors using a previously painted bamboo stick and some ribbon I had lying around from previous projects. It brings a joyful vibe to the interior design of my live/ work space.

Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Joy Divide, 2024 Acrylic on bamboo, ribbons (2 views)


Delphine’s drawing in progress of a bird in flight is in calming and joyous colors symbolizing freedom.

Delphine Levenson, On Joy

Delphine explains her piece: "I thought of birds symbolizing joy because I’ve always thought of flying as joyful and freeing. I want to thank the lesson for reminding everyone that even in a world often seen as violent and upsetting, joy still exists if you look for it."

Meridith loves reading and so she painted this watercolor of her books. I just love how it fills up the whole page! Plus, it’s a great image as we gear up for the AYB Year of Literacy!!


Meridith McNeal, On Joy

Simone’s collage expresses so much love and lightness of these caricatured buildings in the landscape in the pose of kissing.

Simone Awor, On Joy

Ed’s approach included works on paper. A mixture of drawing and collage. The first image calls to mind Ed’s joyous thoughts of his son Jacob joyfully eating pizza as a child. Ed’s second piece, like Emily’s above, revels in taking a walk on the beach.

Ed Rath, On Joy l & ll


Leah’s drawing is a bench centered in a pink field of curvy lines. The lines represent pathways and the pink background is a joyful and peaceful color.

Leah Eliopulos, On Joy

Rachel used a joyful illustration from Briar Patch of animals in the landscape with a joyful and peaceful soundtrack Agape by Nicholas Britell "If Beale Street Could Talk".


Rachel Palmer, On Joy


Jodie’s reflection in closing: “It’s a beautiful thing to experience and create together at a time when we need it most. There is so much joy in the works here and I love the reflections and the interconnectedness we all share.”


On Tuesday for AYB Advanced Studio in person in our studio at BWAC we had a full house of talented artists (with a 60 year age span!). The exuberant atmosphere of welcome and support evident from the very first arrival. We caught up with each other as we feasted on vegan pasta and donuts, flavored seltzer and orange wine. With Liv at the helm of the music this week, we moved on from my Disco Inferno play list from last week!

I began with the announcement that this was our final Advanced Studio for the year. Initial panic morphed into excitement as I announced teachers and sessions planned for AYB Summer Session 2024. The energy and positive spirit in this group is effervescent. In that teacherly way, I scanned the room as I spoke and every time my eyes alighted on Marley (the youngest in attendance for the session) her ear to ear grin was simply joyous! I consider myself very lucky to have artists like Marley who I have known since before she was born participating in our programs.


Then we got down to the business of thinking about and making art! AYB Artist Ajani Russell put together a splendid and inspiring power point of artwork (spanning over 60 centuries!) which immersed us in the topic at hand (nod to Reg Lewis, AYB wordsmith), hands.


Participating artists had their choice of materials – watercolor, pen, pencil, marker, chalk, charcoal, and mixed media were all employed. Ajani had us begin with a timed drawing from observation, then move on to at least one more piece using any approach from realistic depictions to wild surrealistic symbolic narratives!


Ajani reflects on the session: "The class began with a presentation on some of the ways select artists have depicted hands in works from ancient Egypt to contemporary creators and what they may express through form. Artists included Auguste Rodin, Issac Micsilic, Henry Moore, Oyin, ancient sculptures from Egypt among others.

(Left to right) Auguste Rodin, The Cathedral, Modeled 1908; cast 1925, Issac Micsilic, Untitled, pastel and charcoal on heavyweight black paper; 2022, and Henry Moore, The Artists Hands, 1974

I discussed how the ways hands are crafted can reveal aspects of the subject that add to the context of the work, from their social status to emotions as well as how they can be used to deliver messages by using gestures, mudras or sign language, as part of metaphors etc. The class dove into a mini exercise of drawing their own or a peers hand to warm up, then created longer pieces using the references from the presentation.

12th-century Japanese scroll showing different mudra gestures

Although hands can be considered a straight forward prompt, the range of approaches to it varied greatly. Many went in the surreal direction, distorting hands, showing movement and using color to express emotions. Others used gestures and even objects alongside hands to convey greater emotions. Jules drew a house being enveloped in a pair of giant hands grasp while Mich showed a pair of outreached hands handing off an apple. Intense lighting/ contrast also drove some of the pieces to have more dramatic finishes."

Examples of our artwork created in this session:

Ajani Russell, Hands l & ll

Lenika Silva, Hands l & ll

Taylor Branch, Hands l & ll

Sigrid Dolan, Hands

Liv Collins, Hands l & ll

Jailene Garcia, Hands l & ll

Sasha Jackson, Hands l & ll

Abriel (bob) Gardner, Hands

Ed Rath, Hands l & ll

Ariel Abdullah, Hands

Dakota Jones, Hands l & ll

Ailey Haynes, Hands
Marley Haynes, Hands

Shalisa Chang, Hands l, ll & lll

Cat Summers, Hands l & ll


Skylar Clemons, Hands

Mich Goenawan, Hands l & ll

Sasha started critique off by getting real: “You’all are so TALENTED!”.  Tangie complimented Meridith on her "commitment to contemporary art education at its finest and holding space where everyone is safe, nurtured, encouraged, treated with kindness and respect.” Liv shouted out to "My Girls (friends who have joined the ranks of AYB Artists at Liv’s invitation): I am so glad you are here at AYB!! You did a great job making art!! I just knew you would love it here!!”

Critique in action


AYB Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports in from Jersey City: On Tuesday, Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau and I installed an end of year exhibition at PS 17, our partnership school in Jersey City. All projects from our Pop Art Movement were featured along with the after school program's design ideas for the mural. We trained the docents who were excellent - they practiced with each other and with a pretend guest (Evelyn) focusing on retaining eye contact and avoiding turning their backs on visitors. Success.


Evelyn installing at PS 17

We were right back at PS 17 on Wednesday for the exhibition of ART YARD BKLYN's program. Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau conducted 4 classes in the art room and brought them up to take tours of the exhibit while I directed traffic at all points. Our docents were well-informed, eloquent, and withstood (and STOOD!) the several hours (the duration of the exhibit ran from about 9AM until 2PM) required. Such troopers. They only broke for their lunches.  A MILLION THANKS to Adrianna, Wadia, Nathleen, Nesrine, Neriya, Darin, Vaishnavi, Phelopater, Yacine, and Justin. All perfect docents!

PS 17 Docents

We had dozens of visitors - students, school administrators, art teachers, assistant principals, etc. Docents were stationed at each project (and rotated, at times) which made the event flow smoothly.


Docent tour in action at PS 17

We thank the school's principal and assistant principals, Dr. Brower, Mrs. Campbell, and Mr. Bernero - as well as Nicole Manzo, Andre Johnson and Ralph Pyrzanowski for their cooperation and for including us in their wonderful school and its programs.



Back on the PATH on Thursday to PS 6, our partnership school also in Jersey City - for a day of deinstalling our exhibit (the gallery is going to be painted!) and organizing our art room (also going to be painted) and supply closet (much needed!). The PS 6 docents helped me tremendously in the gallery by removing art work CAREFULLY, placing push pins into containers CAREFULLY, removing staples CAREFULLY - and sorting the work and returning every one to the artists.  


Deinstallation at PS 6 

Our only snag was the art WITHOUT THE ARTIST'S NAME ON THE BACK! We start each class with "before we begin, please write your name and class number in pencil on the back of your paper". Grrrrr!  Makes me think of the song "Kids" from "Bye Bye Birdie" ...... "why can't they be like we were? Perfect in every way. What’s the matter with kids today?” 

Well, I was hardly perfect either!


I wonder if the PATH will go out of business now since I won't be refilling my senior Smartlink card for the summer.”


Evelyn finishes up: “And that’s a wrap! Our spring of Pop Art at PS 17 is complete. Dennis and I (Evelyn) came in on Tuesday to install completed work and meet with our team of student docents. Students from our After School Program (Adrianna, Wadia, Nathleen, Nesrine, Neriya, Darin, Vaishnavi, Phelopater, Yacine, and Justin) stepped up to this new challenge: learning about art projects that they themselves may not have participated in, then practicing gracious greetings and engaging descriptions of the works on view. Student works were mounted on black or beige paper and installed salon-style in hallways on the school’s 3rd floor.


Student proudly shows off work on display
Student art installed at PS 17

Wednesday was the big day! Dennis and the docents were busy from the start to the end of the school day, welcoming classes from all over the school and guiding them through the exhibition. I was on duty downstairs in the art room with Mr. P (one of the art teachers at PS 17), meeting with our classes of 7th, 6th, 1st, and 4th graders one last time. We led each class to the 3rd floor to view their own artwork and other classes’ Pop Art projects on view. We recapped what we learned this year about Andy Warhol, the Pop Art movement, and art-making techniques, and students interacted enthusiastically with the docents—offering compliments, asking questions, and noticing how various students responded differently to the same assignment. We also discussed the difference between seeing works in progress and seeing works mounted and installed in a professional manner. Students got to see the fruits of their creative efforts and know that many of their PS 17 peers would see, contemplate, and admire them too.


Use arrows to scroll through photos from opening day at PS 17

Projects on view included Space Fruit by Grade 4 students (inspired by Warhol), Targets by Grade 1 students (inspired by Jasper Johns), Pop Art Portraits by Grade 6 and 7 students (inspired by Warhol), Mural Designs and Collages by After School Program students (taught by Teaching Artist Gia Gutierrez), Warhol’s Flowers by Grade 1 students, Animal Wallpaper Designs by Grade 4 students (inspired by Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper), and Everyday Objects by Grade 6 and 7 students (inspired by Warhol).

Student poses with her painted portrait

I offered extra watercolor paper to students on their way out, encouraging them to continue practicing their drawing and painting skills over the summer. It’s been wonderful to work with these students!”





Delphine shares her completed piece from our recent Advanced Studio zoom session with Eugenie Chao exploring the look of sound.

Delphine Levenson, The Sound of Water, alcohol markers

Hip Hip Hooray for AYB Artist Eden-Nicole Moore (who appears in the photo at the top of this recap.) Eden writes from the café at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London: “Good news, I graduated in honors with distinction and the highest grade anybody in film has ever gotten in the Film Program at the University of East London! I won the award for Best Contribution to a BA Film!”


Eden goes on to write that her family flew over for graduation. Surrounding Eden in the photo below are her mom, chosen-sister Bryanna, brother Nick and Abuelita and her aunts. Eden also shares photos from some of her most inspiring art finds of the season.


Congratulations to AYB Artist Abriel (bob) Gardner who will be performing in Joan Jonas’ work “Mirror Piece” at the Getty in July! Joan Jonas (b. 1936) is a visual artist and is considered a pioneer of video and performance art. Her work is often in the experimental and conceptual realm and she is known as  "a central figure in the performance art movement of the late 1960s".  Mirror Piece is a performance piece utilizing dancers and mirrors and has been described as living piece of art. It first debuted in 1969 and will be performed at MoMa June 25-30 and at the Getty in Los Angeles July 13-14. 

Joan Jonas, Mirror Piece I, 1969, performance view. © Joan Jonas/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Exhibitions to See

AYB Board Member Cecile Chong has work in two exhibitions which opened yesterday. At The Boiler (191 N 14th St, Brooklyn, NY ) Object/Boundary, organized by Eliana Blechman, an exhibition showcasing the works in handmade paper by 2023 Dieu Donné Workspace Residents: Katie Bell, Cecile Chong, Melissa Dadourian, and Baris Gokturk.


And Kates Ferri Projects (561 Grand Street, NYC 10002) SOLSTICIO curated by Eduardo Carrera with Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Gabriela Cherrez, Cecile Chong, Stephano Stephano Espinoza, Juan Miguel Marin, Pachi Muruchu, Ronny Quevedo, Boris Torres & Mary Valverde on view through July 20th.


Now on view at PS 1 in Long Island City are several exhibitions well worth heading over to see! In the entry gallery spanning several walls is an installation of ongoing charcoal drawings of protests against recent book bans in public schools across the US, a topic at the heart of contemporary debates over education, censorship, and how history is told by Rirkrit Tiravanija.


PS 1 lobby installation view Rirkrit Tiravanija. Photo by Meridith McNeal.

On the top floor the first retrospective exhibition of painted fabric works by Pacita Abad (Filipina-American, 1946–2004). The works are powerful to behold, deeply personal while resonant in a broad fashion, and beautifully installed - so that the scale is just right for each work from mammoth to intimate scale. (Through September 2, 2024).

PS 1 lobby installation view Pacita Abad. Photo by Meridith McNeal.

Webbed Skies is a gorgeous  first major solo museum show of 30 weavings by Melissa Cody, Navajo/Diné textile artist and enrolled member of the Navajo/Diné nation. (Through September 9, 2024)


PS 1 lobby installation view Melissa Cody. Photo by Meridith McNeal.

A great summer art viewing trip, especially made sweeter as the museum entry is free to NYers!


The info you’ve all been waiting for…. We are gearing up for Summer Session 2024 when we will usher in our Year of Literacy!

Jane Huntington, Signs of Protest (From Summer Session 2023, detail)

Registration will be open to the public on Sunday June 30 at 5-6pm. Artists are welcome to come to as many sessions as they like.  The one exception being Dede’s skateboard deck sessions which are two sections of the same class (you may sign up for one or the other). Classes are held at our studio at BWAC in Red Hook, Brooklyn from 12:30-3:30pm


  • Monday July 8: Evelyn Beliveau: Water based Oil Painting (text in painting)

  • Tuesday July 9: Evelyn Beliveau: Water based Oil Painting (text in painting)

  • Wednesday July 10: Evelyn Beliveau: Water based Oil Painting (text in painting)

  • Thursday July 11: Liv Collins & Jules Lorenzo: Envisioning Lyrics & live music


  • Monday July 15: Evelyn Beliveau: Water based Oil Painting (text in painting)

  • Tuesday July 16: Dede Lovelace: Skateboard Design & Board Painting (section 1)

  • Wednesday July 17: Dede Lovelace: Skateboard Design & Board Painting (section 2)

  • Thursday July 18: Dede Lovelace: Skateboard Block Party outdoor site TBD


  • Monday July 22: Reg Lewis: language in the style of Faith Ringgold’s political poster series

  • Tuesday July 23: Jacob Rath: The Ox and The House, the Montessori tale of the origin of our alphabet

  • Wednesday July 24: Meridith McNeal: Painting Text in Watercolor

  • Thursday July 25: Field trip to Governors Island. Mildred Beltré, and Jodie Lyn-Kee Chow: Studio visits & celebratory potluck picnic


To raise the funds needed for AYB Summer Session 2024, and to keep programs free and open to all we have set up a GoFundMe. Thank you so much for donating what you can, and sharing the link with others!


Or if you prefer, we have an Amazon wish list for Summer Session supplies, and you can always support through our Donation page.






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