October 2019

We’re back with the latest and greatest from inside the studios, as well as an update on Events, Projects, Opportunities, and more!​


Last AFH Open Studios of The Year
on October 30, 2019​

Enjoy refreshments while touring our creative studios from 5-7pm on Wednesday 10/30. Bring a friend, family member, or colleague & introduce us!​

This past summer, Artists For Humanity’s teens and mentors were hard at work in our Boston studios. As a result of our 30,000-square-foot building expansion—which opened in late 2018—we have scaled our space and updated our technology to make way for new large-scale commissions, like the recently completed public art project for Federal Realty Investment Trust.​

What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on at AFH thus far?

I would say my cityscapes were the hardest because they are so particular and there is a lot of measurement that goes into it, so it takes a longer time. 


Working on cityscapes strengthened my sense of perspective, before I did cityscapes I wasn’t very good at doing things in perspective with a lot of angles but after I did cityscapes I was more comfortable with it.


AFH’s Painting Studio
transforms a blank wall​

Bringing life and color to a long vacant location, AFH’s Painting Studio was commissioned by the South West Boston Community Development Corporation (SWBCDC) and the People of Hyde Park Wanting Equal Representation (P.O.H.W.E.R.) to paint a mural at the site of the former Doyle Playground on River street in Hyde Park, offered by DCR.


Mentors Gary Chen and Rob Gibbs led this installation, working in collaboration with 7 teen artists from the Painting Studio. Using spray paint and brush techniques the team completed this amazing, large-scale piece during this past summer. The mural was created to depict how the Hyde Park community hopes this space will be utilized in the future: an inclusive and interactive space where all are welcome! 


Our latest large-scale project, giant flower sculptures for Federal Realty, is in full bloom — see them on view at Assembly Row now!​​​​

Commissioned by Federal Realty Investment Trust, AFH's 3D Design Studio designed and fabricated four large sculptures playfully designed as gigantic flowers. In late September, the functional flower sculptures were installed in Somerville’s beloved Assembly Row shopping center.​​

Designed with the Instagram-age in mind, these whimsical, larger-than-life flowers transform areas under construction into an art playground. During the day, the sculptures will attract passersby with their brightly colored hues, and at night they will delight with a built-in lighting system emanating a warm, steady glow.​​

Of the project, Creative Project Director Haidan Hodgson says, “We wanted to create something playful, yet contemporary. It was important to us that the finished product felt whimsical enough for a kid to play on, and sleek enough for an adult to take interest in too.”


AFH’s new ShopBot CNC routing machine allowed the organization to fabricate the entire project in-house. Teens collaborated with mentors to set up the router, observed it in action, and assembled the components cut by the router into the final product. AFH teen designer Cameron says, “Projects like these require tons of physics and math—which means we come together as a studio and figure it out together.”


Visit these large-scale blooms in Assembly Row and tag #AFHGrows to be featured on our social media channels!

Each Latest News, we highlight Artists For Humanity’s enterprising teen artists and designers to give you an inside look into their creative process and their unique experience at AFH. AFH’s model reinforces the reciprocal value of pairing working artists and designers (who we call ‘mentors’) with teen artists and designers (who we call ‘youth participants’ or ‘apprentices’) to find creative solutions for client projects. This month, we sit down with Paint Studio participant Liana Novoa.​​​

Name: Liana Novoa

Studio: Painting

Age: 17; High School: Another Course To College 

Years at AFH: 3

How long have you been working at AFH?

I’ve been working at AFH for almost 4 years now. I’ve been in the Painting studio the entire time, Gary has always been my mentor.


How did you find out about AFH?

My brother used to work here, he was really close to Rob, I came to visit and really liked it.


Have you always been interested in art and design?

Yes, pretty much I've always done art ever since I could remember. I remember being in elementary school and always drawing flowers and designs on my friends hands. 


What challenges have you faced?

When I first started working here, I wasn't really good at networking and putting myself out there, talking to people in general. I feel like over time AFH has helped me and now I know how to be comfortable when putting myself out there.


I also had challenges with confidence in my work. When I first started working here I wasn't confident in what I made, I doubted myself when it came to my art but now I can recognize where I am at, so I thank AFH for that!


What has been your favorite project so far?

My favorite project, I would say, is this praying mantis I painted recently. It was my first painting of a bug and I really enjoyed it and ever since then I have been painting bugs. They are so colorful, I love all the colors and they are also very round which is very satisfying to paint. It also comes easily to me, I like painting things in nature like plants, aquatic animals and other nature themes.


Was it your first time working with these materials?

Yes, that was the first time I experienced cityscape painting. I used a lot of tape and measurements. I also had to edit the pictures a lot. I used photos I took myself as references so I had to crop and edit colors a lot.


What other projects have you worked on in the Paint Studio since you started?

I went through this thing where I painted a lot of water. I painted this one water scene, I painted underwater things, I painted an iguana with waves in the background.


Do you have any creative pursuits outside of the Studio?

Yes, I still sketch outside of AFH. I am trying to get into collaging as well. I also do commissions on the side sometimes. I do a lot of tattoo designs for people. I have done things like dragons, names, and flowers. I also do a lot of portraits. I like doing portraits, its my favorite thing to sketch. Portraits are something I've always drawn. When I doodle, I always start drawing a face, eventually I started to take it more seriously and realized I enjoyed doing it. Now I just need to figure out how to draw the rest of the body. 


Were you doing commissions and sketching before you started at AFH?

It definitely started after working here once I started to really build up on my art skill. Before AFH I didn't really see myself as a great artist but now I see myself as a better, more experienced artist, and I have a lot more confidence in my art skills.


What inspires you?

Being surrounded by so many creatives. All of my friends are into art so they really inspire me, especially when we sketch together it’s really empowering. I made my closest friends here. I’m closer with people here than at school.


What are you working on right now in the Paint Studio?

I’m working on a diptych, two 3x3s, of bees fighting over the string of lavender. This is my first time working on a 3x3 so it is a little intimidating but I am excited. Save the bees! The bees are in a crisis they need that representation.


How has your time at AFH affected your personal, academic, or social life?

In terms of my social life, I’ve made a lot of friends here, even though they have come and gone, I've made a lot of good friend groups and connections, I'm more social here than I am outside. 


As for academics, tutoring has actually helped me  focus on homework, it helps me keep my grades up and focus on assignments.


What are your favorite aspects of working here?

Constantly having people on me to continue doing art, if I wasn't here I wouldn’t be working on my art as much as I am, that's for sure. It's good to have that consistency so I'm always growing as an artist, seeing other people's work and always having motivation.


What do you plan on studying in college? What are your plans after AFH?

I plan on going to MassArt that is my top school. I want to major in illustration so I can later become a better tattoo artist. I think the idea of having my artwork on someone else’s body is really cool. It’s a cool way to preserve my artwork. It also makes people really happy when you give them a tattoo they love.


If you had to offer a piece of advice to a teen who is just starting at AFH, what would it be?

Everyone is friendly. Don’t be intimidated to talk to anyone. Everyone here has a really nice vibe so don’t be afraid. All the people and great artists were intimidating for me at first but over time you realize it’s not so scary. AFH does a good job of making you feel like you are a part of something, whether it be your group or studio, there is a lot of unity.


AFH's Global Arts Residency meets The Greatest Party On Earth​

Paint Studio brings awareness to Hyde Park transforming a blank wall into a visualization of the neighborhood’s future.​

Alumni Voices: Handy Dorceus

Hear from AFH alumnus Handy Dorceus in our newest edition of Alumni Stories: “Where Are They Now?”​

Knowhere Art Gallery is a new gallery space in the historic Oak Bluffs neighborhood on Martha’s Vineyard. Knowhere Art stands out on the Vineyard as not simply a beautiful gallery, but a "convening" space where guests take a journey with the artists and art, and share ideas and culture.​ We met the co-founder, Val Francis when she toured AFH on a visit to Boston. Val and her husband/business partner Ralph Groce subsequently hired AFH to design the nascent gallery’s logo.

Graphic Design studio recently designed logos for several different clients- Learn More!​

Our graphic design team has had high demand from start-up businesses seeking to design their visual brand and others wanting a redesign of their existing company logo– and the requests keep coming! Logo design is the perfect project for AFH, providing an opportunity for teens to apply design thinking skills to one of the most valuable visual assets of a business and in the process, learn about different industries and the vision they hope to bring to market. Some of our clients this year have included Massachusetts Service Alliance and one of its core programs–the Commonwealth Corps, Dove & Donkey, The Guild for Human Services and the newly inaugurated Knowhere Art Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard.  

After our Graphic Design Studio aced the project, we were invited to curate the gallery's inaugural exhibition - all comprised of the work of AFH Teen artists. A group of 6 teens and AFH staff trekked to the Vineyard over the July 4th weekend, where we were thrilled to see the logo hanging on the gallery's exterior!  We served as gallery ambassadors over a couple of "ArtWalk" days, refined our presentation skills, made a slew of new friends, and sold 6 of the 16 paintings! The Knowhere Art Gallery-AFH relationship has been incredible, and we're already brainstorming about a return appearance to the Vineyard for next Summer.


Miguel: “Speaking directly with clients is one of the best parts about working on logo projects. Personally, this helped me alot with professional and communication skills. When I first started working at AFH I was really nervous and shy when talking to clients but now this is something I'm very comfortable with and it is extremely useful.”

We are thrilled to launch a new cultural exchange program, called Voices: AFH’s Global Arts Residency next March. Our vision is to connect AFH teen artists with a global network of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs. Over the course of five weeks, AFH teens and resident artists will work together to create studio artwork, public art pieces, and performances, which will serve as a testament to the power of intercultural dialogue.​

AFH is excited to welcome Zeinixx, the first female graffiti artist in Senegal, and Karismatik Diksa, a prominent hip-hop producer and sound engineer, from Dakar, Senegal to collaborate and mentor AFH young people and community members about using the arts to create social change. AFH will facilitate this exchange of ideas that will culminate in a celebration of the arts and global learning at The Greatest Party on Earth.  Come celebrate with us!​

We spoke with teen artists Danny and Brendan to discuss their takeaways from this project:


Danny: “It’s hard for me to pick one thing I enjoyed about this project. I really like how everyone had a specific role they were able to focus on. The mural wouldn’t have come together the way it did without a solid and dedicated team. Everyone worked together effectively and that allowed for a successful project, so I think the team aspect was one of my favorite parts of this project. This was my first time working on a mural project.”


Brendan: “I really enjoyed getting to spray paint and use the spray gun because that is something I don't get to do regularly in studio. Working on murals allows for us to expand the materials and techniques we use. Spray Painting is something I am personally interested in so it is really exciting when I get to use spray paint for work. Also I usually don’t get to use a big spray gun so it was awesome Rob trusted me with that responsibility.”


Check out the project recap video filmed and edited by AFH Video & Event Production studio:

AFH went even deeper with Knowhere Art Gallery, making it an amazing experience for teens from both our Graphic Design and Painting Studios.​​




Artists For Humanity | 100 W 2nd St Boston MA, 02127 T.617.268.7620    F.617.268.7358



This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Mass Cultural Council, and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.​

Funded in part by Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion, a multi-year effort focusing on access, equity and quality arts learning for BPS students. The BPS Arts Expansion Fund, managed by EdVestors, is supported by the Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Katie and Paul Buttenwieser, The Klarman Family Foundation, Linde Family Foundation, and other individuals. BPS Arts Expansion is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.​

Artists For Humanity is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act from the National Endowment for the Arts.​