On Friday, July 18th, UNIQLO, the clothing retailer, hosted a hands-on art workshop with the nonprofit Free Arts NYC and the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) where 40 children from across the city who are part these programs gathered at UNIQLO’s 5th Ave. store on the museum-inspired SPRZ NY floor to not only learn about art, but to create their own art inspired by the work of world-renowned, contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
The children, ages 7-14, were paired with volunteers and mentors from UNIQLO, DHS and Free Arts NYC, and created their artwork through exploring different mediums such as sketching, painting and stamping – all while drawing upon the work of Yayoi Kusama. The children viewed her artwork for inspiration, and afterwards shared their creations along with a group discussion about their projects.
Free Arts NYC’s mission is to provide underserved children and families with a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programs that help them to foster the self-confidence and resiliency needed to realize their fullest potential. The project was truly something all of these children were able to connect with, as art knows no bounds, and there are no mistakes in art. This will conclude a series of events UNIQLO is hosting with DHS, including clothing donations to more than 300 DHS families in Brooklyn last week.
Jean Emmanuel Shein, who heads UNIQLO’s CSR and community partnerships, Liz Hopfan, Executive Director and Founder of Free Arts NYC, and DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor were in attendance to discuss how art education is important to futures of these children. Liz Hopfan began her career in service to children and families in the early 1990s as an elementary school teacher in South Central Los Angeles, and started the NYC program in 1998.