Making Their Mark: An ARTPrenticeship Showcase

The Spirit of We, painted behind Brotherwell Brewing, was a 2019 ARTPrenticeship project.

Murals consisting of bright colors and exciting, meaningful designs are a frequent sight in the downtown and East Waco areas. Many people drive past them every day and likely wonder who painted them. One of the groups behind some of these murals is Creative Waco, which pairs local students with professional mentors in its ARTPrenticeship program.

The students selected to create this year’s mural on the Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institue building include art and audiovisual (AV) interns: Marisa Sanchez, Micha Morgan, Jade Moncrief, Yajaira Martinez, Christopher Ramsey, Tahlia Tran, Jasmin Nunez, Katherine “Trouble” Robinson, Karina Jaramillo-Hernandez, Johanna Angeles, John Segovia (AV), Jatorrean Mozee (AV), Leilani Vences (AV), and Juvenal Ramos (AV).

As part of this fall’s project, the Dr Pepper Museum is hosting Make Your Mark: An ARTPrenticeship Showcase, which opens on Friday, November 12, from 5 pm – 7 pm, and continues through December.

The ARTPrenticeship Showcase

“The Dr Pepper Museum has generously opened up some wall space in their museum to allow our visual art apprentices to develop their own personal pieces of art to be displayed,” said Stefanie Wheat-Johnson, the ARTPrenticeship program manager. “That gives our apprentices a chance for their work to not just be seen by teachers and judges if they’re in a school contest but by community members. They get to tell a piece of their own story.”

ARTPrenticeship students and mentors meet regularly at Cultivate 7twelve to discuss their projects.

The prompt given to the students by their art mentors was to incorporate their own cultures and personal stories in their pieces. Students began to create their works in an art workshop held in October.

Tahlia Tran, a senior at Waco High School, is a second-year ARTPrenticeship participant and worked last year on The Tree of Life mural. Like many of the students, she has a special connection to her showcase project.

“I am Vietnamese and Chinese American. For the Lunar New Year, you would give red envelopes to young people. This was a key part of my growing up,” said Tran. “I’m going to do a red envelope that says Happy Lunar New Year in Vietnamese and Cantonese. I will also have a portrait and the Year of the Lamb, which is what I am.”

These personal projects were started in October, and students were encouraged to finish them on their own before the show to help develop time management skills. The exhibit is an opportunity for the students to gain valuable insight into the professional art world. The community and possibly even art promoters can see their work at the show and talk to them at Friday night’s reception.

The ARTPrenticeship Program

The eight-week ARTPrenticeship program allows Waco ISD students to get involved in the art world while preparing for the future. Open to juniors and seniors, the paid internships let the students selected expand their skills and gain valuable experience for their resumes.

The students are currently working on a mural behind the Dr Pepper Museum on Tuesdays and Saturdays and even had a community paint day on November 6, 2021. This community day allowed people to talk to the apprentices and mentors and paint part of the mural.

This year’s mural behind the Dr Pepper Museum is scheduled for completion at the end of November.

The ARTPrenticeship program has two elements. First, the art apprentices work on a mural while the AV apprentices create a video documentary of the project. Plus, the students are paired with professional artists to learn about different aspects of the art world, including painting, budgeting, and time management.

“The things I hope the apprentices take away from this are a vision of what they can achieve and what they are capable of within themselves, seeing how they can grow and what they can do in such a short amount of time,” said Wheat-Johnson. “I also hope that they have a vision for what their community is like. Being able to see what the city is about is a unique way to see that there are possibilities here for them.”

Past ARTPrenticeship projects include:

  • The Tree of Life (2020), 715 Elm Avenue
  • The Color of Health (2019), Family Health Center & MLK Jr Community Clinic, 1911 N MLK Jr Blvd
  • The Spirit of We (2019), Brotherwell Brewing, 400 E Bridge St
  • 1,000 Hopes for Waco (2018), S 2nd St & Jackson Ave

The ARTPrenticeship Mentors

Mentors for the ARTPrenticeship program are professional artists, who help the students grow and create during each mural project. This year’s art mentors are Christal Peterson, Julie Cervantes, and Raj Solanki, and the AV mentor is Mike Hamilton. Each mentor has 3-4 students they work with throughout the two-month program.

Christal Peterson is a new mentor this year, but it’s her second mural project through Creative Waco. She has also worked on several other earlier murals and even collaborated on one with Tran, one of her current apprentices.

“It has been cool to see them walk into their creative expressions and mix and mingle with each other,” said Peterson. “And it’s nice when people see us out there, these young people painting and creating on the wall.”

As the associate director for character formation in Baylor’s athletic department, Peterson aids student-athletes in formulating their future goals. This experience allows her to also work with apprentices on their post-mural plans as well as their artwork.

Mike Hamilton, the AV mentor, is a former teacher and now runs Rogue Media Network. He’s helping his four mentees learn how to direct scenes, create content, and edit it under his guidance.

Hamilton explained: “We watch the entire process. We’re gathering content so that we can build a five-to-six-minute promo video for the ARTPrenticeship program. The whole idea is to have students start a project so they know the scope, give them an idea of how to get to the end, and produce a product.”

For him, the final payoff is simple: “I like that ‘aha moment’ where it clicks in their eyes.”

Make Your Mark: An ARTPrenticeship Showcase in the East Wing of the Dr Pepper Museum has its opening from 5 pm – 7 pm on Friday, November 12. The exhibit will remain on display through December.

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Alyssa Erchinger was an intern at Waco Insider in the fall of 2021 and is a 2022 graduate of Baylor University's Professional Writing and Rhetoric program.

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