Staff Spotlight: Lamar Atkins
This week Angelica chatted with Lamar, one of our SACC Lower School Teachers, about finding inspiration through community, about what he has been up to at home, and about his belief in the potential of today's youth.
A: How would you describe your role at CAC? How would you describe yourself?
L: Definitely an art lover who cares about the future of our youth. Definitely love to be creative and definitely care about our youth and the future of where they’re going and how that shapes our future as the generation before,I am definitely passionate in my beliefs and I would say I am extremely encouraging to our youth to make sure that they are very attentive to the world so that they can learn to grow from what they see and figure out where they wanna be in their futures.
A: How do you exercise creativity inside and outside the classroom?
L: In the classroom, one thing is to share things that help to drive my creativity. One of the things I like to do is draw. One of the things I like to draw are cartoon characters, which go hand in hand with children. Being able to have check in with one of the kids and they ask “can you draw this?” Really everything is a way to hone creativity. Utilizing the kids’s ideas in class and letting their ideas help me grow. It’s kind of a revolving door bc my ideas transfer to them and their ideas transfer to me and constantly go back and forth which is awesome. Outside of the classroom, it’s just me always wanting to be better at something. I'm always trying to figure out or learn or watch other people do what i want to do, so that it helps me grow.
A: So I know you are a musician and are also are into street art. Who are your mentors?
L: When I was younger I was in church choir and then started getting into sports which took me away from church, cause I was always having sports tournaments. When i got older into high school, a big inspiration was just my friend group. They loved hip hop and there was just something intriguing about it. The creativity was intriguing and I decided to try it, so it became something that was a passion for me and not only a passion, but therapy for me. Art was introduced to me young, but in high school I started playing around with the concept of graffiti and ya know learning letters and drawing my name. It was just kinda a pasttime in high school, but i put it down for a long time. I would doodle here and there, but you don’t necessarily sit down and learn the anatomy of a face. Those things came I would say about five years ago when I started working at the art center. My idea of art then was that it wasn’t gonna make me money so I was working, but now as an adult, I find that art is therapeutic. I love the growth curve of it. You can always grow as an artist no matter how masterfully you can make a portrait.There is something you can learn and grow and that is one of my favorite things about visual art is that there is a neverending growth curve. Influences for graffiti were just friends in high school that were really apart of the graffiti culture who really took it seriously even though back then it had a different stigma. Back then, it was looked at as vandalizing, but now, it’s looked at as beautiful street art. Close friends who were actually prominent street artists. People around the city.
A: What is your favorite part working with youth/ working at CAC?
L: My absolute favorite part is that, kinda the knee-slapper of it is: we, as youth workers, we are always supposed to be there for the kids and i think the best part of youth work is the kids don’t know how much they are there for me and my growth and my learning. I would say that is the best part of youth work and being at CAC. I grow and gain so much knowledge from it. I can’t be more grateful.
A: Where can people find your art?
A: You also have a lot of art in Graffiti Alley.
L: Maybe during a random stroll in Cambridge you can see it!
A: What have you been up to during this time of social distancing?
L: I am an outside person, so trying to stay sane. I am trying to take advantage of the fact that I don’t have too much to do in terms of daily activities. Just trying to makes sure the house is stocked and I’m checking up on the kids. Taking some time to do art. I got an Ipad so I am working on learning ProCreate and ordered mad spray paint.
A: What have you been doing with the kids?
L: I work with the Artists/Expressionists so that is our youngest group. Trying to consider distractions and being in the house. We have been doing small check-ins, then after we do an art activity and right now we’ve been learning the basics of the rainbow. Warm and cool and visually thinking about the colors and the things we see in our daily lives and incorporating them into our work. We started with red. The kids grabbed whatever red drawing tools they have and then we did three minute drawing prompts. So we went around the chat and someone would give an idea of something that is red and we would spend three minutes drawing it and then we would come back and share them. Right now, we are on our second color, orange. Helping them to be visually attentive. Trying to keep in mind I am with five and six year olds, but they’re very engaged with it. Today, we drew orange popsicles.