Talent Agency Committed to Giving City Students Creative Opportunities
The small pink sticker, roughly the size of a sticky note, displayed a black and white puppy with one eye and an injured ear. The design has a “deeper meaning,” according to Brianna, a student at Syracuse Academy of Science.
Without Talent Agency, Brianna, 16, wouldn’t have the resources or guidance necessary to fulfill her creative imagination, as she did with the puppy sticker. Brianna’s dream is to become an animator, and she says learning the “broad range” of art genres taught by the Talent Agency is a stepping stone to her goals.
Yvonne Buchanan, who founded Talent Agency with students like Brianna in mind, aims to provide disadvantaged high school artists college-level instruction and the opportunity to create professional art portfolios to help get into college.
“So we have several students who don’t (take) any art classes, but they’re artists,” Buchanan said.
On Friday, Dec. 7, Talent Agency students met for the final time of the fall semester by putting on an art exhibit on the fourth floor of the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, Syracuse University’s school of design building in downtown Syracuse.
“They come here, they get instruction and they get opportunities to make different things,” Buchanan said. “Once they get to be upper level juniors we get much more precise about the kind of artwork they make in terms of creating a portfolio.”
Buchanan started the Talent Agency in the summer of 2011 with Dorene Quinn because they felt the need to provide more time and resources to young artists in the Syracuse area. Both Quinn and Buchanan teach at SU in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Undergraduate or graduate students at Syracuse lead the program, along with Buchanan, by delivering workshops and mentoring teens. They receive three college credits for their commitment by enrolling in AIC612 – Methods in Creative Leadership: Talent Agency.
“It’s basically how to tailor your artistic knowledge into a teaching environment,” Buchanan said.
By having educators with different areas of expertise, the high school students in Talent Agency are exposed to a wide range of creative endeavors, from sculpturing to green screen digital portraits. Enrolling in the Talent Agency is completely free.
Kristina Starowitz, a SU graduate student and workshop instructor for Talent Agency, spearheaded a mural project. Starowitz and students brainstormed mural ideas, crafted a mockup and then went to Dr. King Elementary School for a day of service.
The end result: a colorful garden handprinted on a 75-foot wall at the elementary school.
With the green screen portraits, taught by workshop instructor Andrea Buckvold, the teens got the chance to learn digital skills they likely would not be exposed to. Using the computer labs in the school of design, students superimposed images of themselves over creative backgrounds. One apparently hungry student inserted himself on a close-up shot of pepperoni pizza.
Buckvold, who has a degree in sculpture, also led a project in which students could design structures using cardboard materials. She wanted to give the students “a chance to think big.”
“We did little scale ones first to test out the material, then we tried to go bigger,” Buckvold said. “That’s another thing that typically in school we don’t get to work with because they’re large material, there’s cost … things like that.”
This semester, the class size totaled roughly 12 and brought in students from the four city schools — Henninger, Corcoran, Nottingham and PSLA at Fowler — plus Syracuse Academy of Science and Lafayette. During the summer session, Talent Agency met from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. four days a week for six weeks. The fall session is more of an after school program and is held Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.
“They’re committed,” Starowitz said. “And we’re committed to giving them an opportunity.”
— By Danny Emerman, Staff Reporter