News and Events

Still Opening Doors for Teens

Still Opening Doors for Teens

Proud Project Open Door participants share work, stories and plans for the future at the end-of-year exhibition.

POD alumna Julie Cheeks is now studying art at Rhode Island College and hopes to work in Japan after she graduates.

Proud teenagers and their families gathered on Friday, May 18 to share work, stories and plans for the future at the end-of-year Project Open Door (POD) exhibition. The annual event has also become a reunion of sorts for previous POD participants who have graduated from high school and are now pursuing bachelor’s degrees at colleges and universities in the area.

“I was in the program for three years,” says Rhode Island College junior Julie Cheeks, “and it really opened my eyes to different styles and materials. It also helped me figure out what I want to do: 3D modeling and animation in the gaming industry. I hope to work in Japan after I graduate.”

Professor Paul Sproll, head of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design, launched the arts-based college access program for low-income Rhode Island teenagers in 2005 and continues to run it along with Associate Director Lauren Allen.

POD teachers develop accessible projects like this one using rubber stamps to create prints with repeating patterns.

“We love the fact that POD alumni come back and let us know how they’re doing,” says Allen. She also explains that one of the changes made to the after-school arts program this year was to enlist Textiles Critic Eliza Squibb 13 TX to teach as a member of the team. “She creates really accessible projects for beginning students,” Allen says, “so they don’t get discouraged.”

Rosa Batz, a 10th-grader at Hope High School in Providence who was at the opening with her parents, started coming to POD classes for the first time last fall. Although working in charcoals was one of the tougher techniques she was asked to learn, she has stuck with it and says that things really startedcoming together this year. She’s now planning to apply to art schools in a couple of years and has set her sights on the Royal College of Art in London.

Simone Solondz

Related stories

Playful Connections at Project Open Door

Thanks to generous support from Hasbro, local high school students benefitted from the opportunity to explore the possibilities of toy and game design at RISD.

Opening Doors That Change Lives

One day in 2005, a group of boys from Providence’s Hope High School found their way to the basement at 20 Washington Place.

Opening a New World

Two new Foundation Studies students build on the creative boost they got through RISD’s Project Open Door program.

Clear Vision of Empowerment

A Sony-supported residency is giving artist/educator Nitashia Johnson MAT 15 the momentum to move inspiring creative projects forward.