AIR’s First Online Showcase: A Celebration of Our 2020 PWP Participants and Their Art

Last week, Arts In Reach held its first online showcase to celebrate participants of the 2020 Phenomenal Woman Project program! To make the event extra special, teens were mailed certificate packages a week prior with the instructions, “Please do not open until the May 7 showcase! We’ll be opening these as a group.” Teens were also encouraged to dress up for the celebration, in costume or clothing that felt special for them, or that made them feel like they were going to an event. 

Our showcase began with a Zoom dance party and a group check-in that prompted participants  to share about the outfits they were wearing. Some teens wore original character costumes, while others wore sentimental articles, or clothing that made them feel comfortable and confident. Staff participated too! Teaching artist Sam Paolini wore a full bear costume, and special guest, AIR Executive Director Deb Holloway, wore a 20-year vintage t-shirt from her very first AIR program. Teens and staff were also asked to share something they were grateful for about our group or the PWP program. The responses of gratitude and appreciation spoke to the community cultivated in this program. 

Next, we played a few rounds of ZOOM Pictionary- a virtual AIR favorite. It was amazing to see the artistic skills of our teens translate to Zoom’s whiteboard function. After Pictionary, AIR Program Director Becca Romanoski, shared a slideshow with photos of our sessions and projects to the tune of Break my Stride by Mathew Wilder, and Kool and the Gang’s Celebration. The slideshow perfectly encapsulated our program journey, from our first two (in-person!) sessions at Wrong Brain through our final project together, the upcycled clothing schematics. It also highlighted the adaptability of our teens to persist with the program through the move online and shift in focus. It was powerful to see our teens’ portfolio pieces all together! The works they created showed breadth and cohesion, and captured the theme of reclamation

When the slideshow finished, Sam announced the name of each participant while our staff and group cheered, clapped, and made full use of the Zoom “Reaction” functions. Our teens then opened their certificate packages as a group, which revealed bonus surprises: AIR pinback buttons, and stickers and pins featuring SamPao original artwork. We ended our session with one final drawing game with Sam, who prompted us to draw Becca as a marsh queen! 

We would like to thank our 2020 PWP teens for sharing their art, kindness and creativity with us this spring! 

Click here to see the slideshow from our 2020 Phenomenal Woman Project celebration:

PWP teaching artist, Sam Paolini, wore a bear costume to our showcase celebration.

AIR Executive Director, Deb Holloway, wore a t-shirt from the early days of AIR.

A still from Pictionary by Abby M.– the word was “vegetarian!”

During check-in, our group shared something they were thankful for about our group. Becca incorporated these messages of gratitude into the slideshow.

Our drawings from the prompt, “draw Becca as Marsh Queen!”

Congratulations to our 2020 PWP participants!