Karen* and a talented group of LAYC Art + Media students are proudly displaying their nature-centered art on WMATA buses this summer!

As part of LAYC’s six-week summer 2017 2nd Nature program, Karen and five other LAYC graphic design students collaborated with the National Park Service of the National Capital Region (NPS) to create posters that encourage people to spend time outdoors and explore parks in the DC metro area. In LAYC’s 2nd Nature program, youth may participate in one of four art and media creative tracks to build core skills in their medium while learning about environmental issues through camping, hiking, whitewater rafting, and other forms of exploration in local parks. Last summer’s field trips included outings to Rock Creek Park, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, and Cunningham Falls State Park.

As a result of an iterative, collaborative design process with NPS last year, Karen and her fellow students have created stunning art based on their outdoor experiences (see photos). They now have the opportunity to share their artistic creations with their community in the form of a graphic poster series that promotes NPS’ Find Your Park initiative. Two of the students’ beautiful, one-of-a-kind posters have been selected for display in local buses, including the Circulator, so keep your eye out for the Rock Creek Park and Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens posters over the summer!

Karen describes aspects of the Rock Creek Park poster design work, which she and her project partner, Cynthia, completed with guidance from an experienced graphic design instructor, “The poster featured various images from Rock Creek Park and an artistic rendering of a woman’s head. We wanted to focus on a head because it represents people and nature exploration. Nature helps us stay positive, calm, and get away from everyday problems.”  

Karen and her peers found the process of collaborating with a client, NPS, both challenging and educational. The aspiring artists learned new skills, including how to create an image and peer edit, how to work with people with contrasting ideas, when to take the lead on a project and when to let others lead, and how to deal with constructive criticism. When reflecting on the project, Karen observed, “It helped me develop as a person, and it helped me meet new people. I didn’t know I was a good artist, and the program helped me discover my talent. I now know how to use Photoshop, edit pictures, and create drawings from scratch.”

Karen will be a senior in high school this year and plans to attend a local college and major in business. Skills she learned while developing her project in the 2nd Nature program, such as effective communication and collaboration, leadership, and problem-solving, will serve her well in her future studies and career.

*All names have been changed for privacy.

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