Class Project 3: Jon Brown
Jon Brown, a local artist and educator at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and Milwaukee Art Institute, is the lead artist and mentor at ArtWorks for Milwaukee. Due to Brown’s affiliation with the community and Art Institute, ArtWorks thought he was a great candidate for the job.
The ArtWorks mission statement says the organization aims to teach students who underperform in high school a set of skills that can help them achieve success. Brown believes his students are some of the best.
“The students are great, they come with a lot of great experience and they do live in high-risk neighborhoods and it is really rewarding to me to be able to sit down and teach them a little bit of the new software and get their ideas on paper.”
Brown began working with art at a young age and has led him to a career in art and teaching. He works closely with the eight interns to develop creative skills as well as job skills. Currently, he oversees the production of anti-drug and violence campaigns created by his interns.
Domonique Whitehurst, a high school student with a passion for art and creativity began his internship with ArtWorks for Milwaukee this past fall. Whitehurst said he has learned a lot from the program and specifically Brown, his mentor.
“Jon is a great guy,” Whitehurst said. “I came in knowing a little and now after his help and direction I have acquired a lot of creative and life skills that I can use in the future.”
Brown said his favorite aspect is working with kids and helping them develop their ideas.
“…They don’t have a lot of opportunities in public schools to do artwork, so this gives them a nice outlet.”
After four weeks in the program Brown is impressed with the students’ abilities and willingness to learn, something that he attributes to the internships’ fast paced beginning.
“The good part of the program is that we sit them down right every step of the way and tell them what they need to improve and what they have done well,” Brown said.
With his devotion to the interns and working with kids Brown believes there is not adequate support from the arts or the public at large for the youth in Milwaukee.
“There is a large population of young people that are in great danger of not succeeding because they don’t have the support they need,” Brown said.