Check out the Arts on the “Block” party!

Feb. 15, 2024, 6:55 p.m. | By Lillian Paterson | 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Arts on the Block celebrates 20 years of creative youth programming

The Arts on the Block party is bright, colorful, and packed. Children, teenagers, and parents mingle throughout the studio space, engaging in artistic activities, from cookie decorating to printmaking to celebrate the organization's 20 years of creative youth art programming.

A table for pin-making sits near the front, where participants draw designs to mold into pins. “[My favorite activity was] button making, you can make your own thing and print it down, it’s so cool,” says Shanna Summers, a student working as an Apprentice for AOB. 

The Arts on the Block button-making stand was a big hit! Photo courtesy of Lillian Paterson.

Farther back in the studio is the foam and tile mosaic station, where kids and adults alike glue and stick pieces to make picture frames. Other activities include cyanotype (a slow-reacting photographic printing, usually of nature) and face painting. “My daughter was doing cyanotypes… there’ve been so many great activities for kids to learn about … it’s been really great,” says Sarah Foraker, one of Blair’s AP art teachers, who attended the party to support her student Rochelle Bremmer.

As well as engaging the community in art, Arts on the Block also showcased its merchandise, handmade jewelry, and prints, which were sold to customers and awarded to attendees who participated in the raffle competition. 

Arts on the Block sells handmade jewelry. Photo courtesy of Lillian Paterson.

But wait, what’s Arts on the Block in the first place?

Founded in 2003, Arts on the Block has been engaging youth in Montgomery County in the arts for a little over 20 years. “Arts on the Block is deeply committed to bringing the community together through creative expression,” communications coordinator Mya Carmichael says. 

Programs within Arts on the Block include the Youth Arts Movement (YAM), The Apprenticeship Program (TAP), and Studio Crew. Carmichael believes the beauty of Arts on the Block comes from its youth-oriented focus. “My favorite thing about Arts on the Block is probably its dedication to creative workforce development and empowering creative youth in general,” she says. “I don’t know any organization in the area that does exactly what Arts on the Block does.” The organization boasts over 200 public art commissions created by youth arts apprenticeship members alone. 

Summers, a TAP program member, finds that the most rewarding part of Arts on the Block is being around other creative individuals. “I think my favorite part is just the connections we make. I've met a lot of really cool people… it’s just such a nice and safe community here,” they say. Former TAP program member and current Studio Crew employee Aiden Shanahan agrees that the community is what makes the organization so special. “[AOB] is really welcoming… we all get along, it’s like sunshine and rainbows in here,” he says. 

Arts on the Block knows how important it is for young people to have access to safe spaces for creative expression. “I think [creative expression] is something that is missing in everyday life… it’s important for young people to have that ability to be able to express themselves… this organization serves as a safe space,” says Carmichael. 

While you might have missed the Block party, Arts on the Block has many more exciting opportunities. Their Apprenticeship program applications open up in Spring, and coming soon is a Mini Felted Vessel Workshop (Feb 10) and an Altered Book Workshop (March 2). Check it out, and be sure to support the arts!

Last updated: Feb. 15, 2024, 7:02 p.m.

Tags: Downtown Silver Spring Arts on the Block

Lillian Paterson. Hey, I'm Lillian (she/her) and I'm a co-sports and co-op-ed editor for SCO. When I'm not being totally consumed by school work I like to play guitar and read! More »

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