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Students get creative and get down to work

After a week of sketching, stenciling and spray-painting during their week off from school, teenagers christened the Starting Artists’ new Smith Street headquarters with a colorful wall-length mural celebrating the nonprofit’s motto, “Get inspired. Get Creative. Get to Work!”

A nonprofit organization benefiting teenagers in Brooklyn, Starting Artists provides hands-on training in the arts through after-school classes such as photography, publishing, silk-screening and graphic design. This past week, students utilized their painting and stenciling skills to block out a large mural that would bring a needed splotch of color to the organization’s bare walls.

“We all brainstormed ideas about what it means to be creative and the students came up with ideas that inspired them,” said Marissa Casey, executive director of Starting Artists. “We gave them the tools to get to work and then they translated that into drawings and making stencil designs.”

Casey and other members of the Starting Artists board hope that the new space, located at 211 Smith Street, will serve as an arts community center, with a computer lab and evening and Saturday programs for adults and families.

Katherine Gressel, who helped design the original mural, got involved with the organization as a founding board member when she was in graduate school at Teacher’s College for Arts Administration at Columbia University where she met Casey and collaborated with her on several arts-related projects.

“So far it’s been extremely rewarding to be involved as SA’s first muralist because I can use my art and teaching experience as a vehicle for bringing together young people from the community and enabling them to have a voice and a hand in shaping their physical environment.” Gressel said. “I hope that working on the mural has allowed the students to make this new community arts space their own.”

For more information about Starting Artists, go to or call 718-701-5483.

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