In my last few posts I have been focusing on my glass education and how I made the transition from student to teacher. In this post I will focus on my more recent teaching endeavors and another important studio in New Orleans, Yaya Creative Glass. I have known and worked with Yaya, on and off in some capacity, for over 15 years. The Glass Studio is just one of their many programs.
YAYA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists, Inc.) has been an Arts Educational center for kids in New Orleans for almost 30 years. "YAYA’s mission is to empower creative young people to become successful adults. We provide educational experiences in the arts and entrepreneurship to New Orleans-area children and youth, fostering and supporting their individual ambitions".
I first worked with Yaya back when I was at the New Orleans School of Glasswork (for just Glassworks). Local Glass Artist/Activist/Coordinator, Julie Juneau, was a liaison between Yaya and the local glass studios. Yaya would come and use our facilities for some of their programs, specifically teaching their students glassblowing and business skills through the arts by working with professional artists. I showed many a Yaya student beads and paperweights and other basic glass techniques while at Glassworks.
Later, I came across YAYA regularly the New Orleans Creative Glass Institute or NOCGI - a public, non-profit glass studio where I occasionally taught. From my understanding, YAYA became one of NOCGI's biggest renters/users. After Katrina NOCGI struggled with an uninvested board and lack of leadership, to put it simply. Regardless, many artists depended on this studio to create their glasswork. There were meetings held to dissolve the organization. At this point the only option was to auction all of the organization’s equipment off or to be absorbed by another non-profit. The artists made one last ditch effort to save the studio and made a plea to Yaya who was the obvious choice. They agreed to take on the glass studio as another one of their programs, and at that moment we all became Yaya's.
In September of 2015 Yaya opened it's new campus, combining all their programs with offices, meeting spaces, classrooms, and a brand new glass studio. While at YAYA (in addition to Glassworks and NOCGI) I have taught hundreds of students. Many will try it only that one time. Most notable to me is my last group of students that were with me for 2 years, meeting once each week to hone their skills at the torch. More recently, I made the introductions and helped organize for the visit of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers conference in 2016. Yaya hosted many of the pre-conference workshops for this event, including a sold-out class of my own.
A little more history of the organization:
"YAYA was founded in 1988 as an after-school enrichment program that nurtured the creative talents of local high school students in ways that also strengthened their academic success, life skills, and professional preparedness. With a focus on found objects and repurposed materials, early YAYA Artists (The Original 8) learned to turn their creative talents into career pathways. The “YAYAs” sold artworks throughout the CBD (Central Business District) of New Orleans, then in New York and other U.S. cities, and finally internationally. In the process, the YAYA model of youth development through art became a prototype for emerging organizations across the country."
Deadline for enrollment for kids (age 13-16) who wish to become a Yaya student is December 15th, 2016.