The other day one of our alumnus interns said: “I don’t know how you do this everyday (work with teens), I couldn’t handle it.” A few years ago this same intern was a teen mentee in our programs and an admittingly demanding one. There is nothing more rewarding than working with creative teens, but the challenges are real.
With over fifty teenagers, KBMP is rich with complexity and variables. Every day our mentees are making decisions and taking actions to define or undefine themselves. In the studio, creative decisions and expressive acts build upon each other and form intricate, emotional and psychological landscapes that can be difficult to traverse. The truth is that our mentors and staff are but a boon on each teen’s artistic journey. We shadow them as they travel over hill and dale, deep dive into caves and battle storms. Like a Sherpa, we can take the lead on treacherous ground but otherwise let them explore on their own.
Regardless of the terrain we encounter, we should be properly equipped to be open or closed, encouraging or cautious, and solid or permeable when necessary. Art is a great freedom for those who can wield it and ruthless for those who can’t. And so, as we all wrestle with mastering artistic expression, lets make it a fair fight. In other words, wear your helmet.