Totally Cool Totally Art program gives teenagers opportunities to be creative

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Totally Cool Totally Art program gives teenagers opportunities to be creative

A sixth grader participates in recording and making Video Art. TCTA located in Dittmar Recreation Center helps teenagers expand their creativity.

A sixth grader participates in recording and making Video Art. TCTA located in Dittmar Recreation Center helps teenagers expand their creativity.

Bethany Bissell

A sixth grader participates in recording and making Video Art. TCTA located in Dittmar Recreation Center helps teenagers expand their creativity.

Bethany Bissell

Bethany Bissell

A sixth grader participates in recording and making Video Art. TCTA located in Dittmar Recreation Center helps teenagers expand their creativity.

Bethany Bissell, Editor-in-Chief

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On Mondays and Wednesdays in a small Dittmar Recreation Center classroom, a group of 10 students gather to talk and create movies, paint, and learn how to cook.

These students, grades 7-12, are in a program called Totally Cool Totally Art (TCTA), which is a city-sponsored club for teens to learn urban painting, mixed media, culinary arts, and video art. This little-known program has actually existed since 1996.

“A lot of negative things surrounding teens lives were on the rise, so they created the Social Fabric Initiative,” Kelly Hasandras, TCTA coordinator, said. “It was several different programs and Totally Cool Totally Art was one of them.”

Each year, TCTA has four different classes in different mediums of art. Their classes are in Urban Painting, Culinary Arts, Mixed Media and Video Art. Each class runs for about a month before switching into a new one. The Dittmar location has already finished the Mixed Media and Urban Painting class and will be doing Video Art until Feb. 23.

“I like doing Video Art because I get to act,” 7th grader Gabrielle Gonzalez said. “I like how I get to really show emotion when we make the scary movies.”

Culinary Art will begin on Feb. 27 and will have a themed evening each night, such as Mexican or vegetarian. The instructors of the class bring in recipes for the students to follow. When the meal is prepared, everyone sits down to eat together.

“We really want to highlight healthy eating and nutrition,” Hasandras said. “We want to highlight the vitamins and minerals and the goodness of eating whole foods and making things from scratch and how inexpensive it is.”

“It’s really great to meet new people and get introduced to new things with all these people.””

— Gabrielle Gonzales

In the Mixed Media class, the students do a number of projects in different mediums. They are 3D projects that don’t qualify as sculpture, such as lamps and paper mache heads. In Urban Painting, students involved learn about street art. They do spray painting projects, make their own temporary tattoos, and put designs on hats. To finish the unit, the students at Dittmar painted a mural in the classroom.

“I enjoyed making temporary tattoos,” said Ani Jimenez, a freshman at Harmony Public School. “My aunt has a lot of tattoos and it’s cool to be able to have one too without the pain.”

TCTA takes place regularly at eight different recreation centers Austin-wide, the closest of which to Akins is Dittmar. The locations all come together at the end of the year for an art showcase at the Daugherty, the largest of TCTA’s three showcases. Unlike the other two showcases, the one at Daugherty allows art from everyone.

“It’s our end of year show, so it’s super fun,” Hasandras said. “And it’s cool for the kids to see the breadth of the program.”

 

At Dittmar, the Akins and general high school age presence is lacking. Hasandras said she does not know why this is. She said that transportation might be the reason for this.

“I think that students have a lot of options at their schools, there’s a lot of extracurricular activities, but I know that not every student is involved in everything,” she said.

Gonzalez said she thinks that students should go to TCTA because it’s a fun program to be involved in. She said that TCTA was a very welcoming place.

“It’s a type of environment where they really accept you and where it’s really friendly,” Gonzalez said. “It’s really great to meet new people and get introduced to new things with all these people.”

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