Name: Misia Landau
Role: AFH Board Member
Years with AFH: 5 years
1. How did you first hear about Artists For Humanity?
I was in New York for a meeting of innovators and entrepreneurs, drawn from the worlds of technology, business, medicine, art, and science. Across the meeting lobby, I saw a big color-in-the-spaces mural, which had attracted a crowd, many with felt markers in hand. I was immediately intrigued and made my way over. After coloring in my space, I began talking with one of the artists who helped create the mural, along with Rich Frank, the Marketing Director of AFH. They were so clearly imbued with the enthusiasm, mission, creativity, and dedication that is Artists For Humanity. I was hooked right then and there.
2. What draws you to our mission to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design?
The AFH mission captures a brilliant idea—to engage teens in their own creative process, to help them see themselves in a new light as having something to offer the world around them that is valued and valuable, and to be rewarded financially as well as personally. It shows on the faces of the teens as they speak to you about their work. They are filled with poise, enthusiasm, spirit, focus, determination, and a kind of buoyant politeness and graciousness that lifts my spirits every time I visit. It also shows through in what to me is an astounding statistic, that 100 percent of AFH participants graduate from high school and 95 to 100 percent of AFH participants get accepted to college. That amazes me every time I think about it.
3. When did you first become engaged with AFH?
After I returned from New York, I called Rich Frank, who arranged for me to come visit Artists For Humanity. One of the first things we did was go up to the Painting Studio on the third floor. Seeing the teens at their easels, I couldn't believe the explosion of color and energy. I spoke with some of the teens and later met the amazing staff. I fell in love with AFH right then and there. I called my sisters, Ricki Grossman and Lauren Broch, who live in New York, and told them about this amazing place. We agreed that this was an organization we wanted to help financially, and in any way possible. Thanks to a gift from our parents, Madeline and Victor Lipschutz, we have been able to continue our support.
4. Tell us about a favorite memory you have involving Artists For Humanity.
That first visit is high on my list—meeting the teens and the wonderful mentors and staff who keep AFH going, and also the amazing people who came up with the brilliant idea in the first place. Hearing the story of AFH from Susan Rodgerson—who told me about how AFH began with a group of teen artists she was mentoring, including Jason Talbot and Rob Gibbs—and the vision to employ teens to paint and then sell their work, was a highlight. There would be many memorable visits beyond that—Open Studios, The Gathering, Board of Advisors meetings, and the Greatest Party On Earth, which somehow manages to live up to its promise year after year.
5. What is some advice you would share with teens currently working at AFH?
Become your own best friend. When you do that, you gain a sense of ease and inner grounding that will carry you on all your journeys—it will actually propel you on adventures that you might never have dreamed possible. You radiate out into the world from a place of security and self-sufficiency. Of course, that may be easier said than done, especially when you're young, so seek out mentors and role models who can help you recognize and develop your talents and inherent value, and who fill you with a sense of excitement and possibility. Do so with a sense of purpose and the knowledge that you are becoming the captain of your own ship.
Misia Landau is a science writer, anthropologist, and artist. She received her PhD in anthropology from Yale University, a Diploma in human biology from Oxford University, and taught at Wellesley, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Boston University prior to becoming senior science writer at Harvard Medical School. Before leaving Harvard in 2009, she published over 500 articles on a wide range of cutting edge biological discoveries and was honored by the American Medical Writers Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. She authored a book, “Narratives of Human Evolution,” and has written essays about the role of storytelling in science. In addition to writing, she currently studies drawing and painting at the Academy of Realist Art, Boston.
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6. What inspires you to stay connected to Artists For Humanity?
The purpose, the mission, and the people inspire me to stay connected to AFH. The whole concept of AFH should be trademarked and implemented across the country—and beyond!
7. What are you most excited to see evolve in the EpiCenter expansion?
Bringing in more teens who can share in the AFH experience is hugely exciting. I'm also incredibly excited about the space itself—the plans look amazing. I'm sure it will attract people as well as attention and help get the word out that AFH is a force to be reckoned with. AFH was one of the first creative ventures to move to South Boston, creating the first LEED Platinum certified building in the City. As the new building will show, AFH is still at the cutting edge of what has become a hotbed of innovation and creativity. It's not called the EpiCenter for nothing.