Conjuring the magic of art and design for kids at the Boys & Girls Club

Alvin Oei teaching at Pasadena Boys & Girls Club.

Alvin Oei teaching at Pasadena Boys & Girls Club.

Be passionate about what you do. Be thorough and thoughtful doing it. Be a leader. Make something. Make a difference. These are core Art Center values and Environmental Design student Alvin Oei embodies all of them.

Oei’s enthusiasm about art and design drives his desire to share his knowledge and excitement for the disciplines with kids, most of whom attend schools with no art curriculum. He accomplished this in a big way for the children at Pasadena’s Boys & Girls Club when he conducted an intensive two-week workshop. The mini-Art Center boot camp challenged the youths to design different stores in Diagon Alley from the film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” through storyboarding and physical model making. The project was designed around the popular book and movie series to help make it resonate. Kids “have this unabashed no-limit imagination” says Oei, who is inspired by their energy.

Art Reach and UNITY at Pasadena Boys & Girls Club.

Art Reach and UNITY at Pasadena Boys & Girls Club.

This was a passion project for Oei, who took the summer term off to devote to preparing boot camp to ensure the high standards of Art Center were upheld.

A few of the special creative touches Oei designed include:

  • An intriguing invitation to the 10 youths, ranging in ages from 10-12 years old, was addressed to the “Muggles” from the “Minister of Magic” and requested their help in expanding Diagon Alley.
  • Back stories about the shopkeepers and the stores to be designed by the kids. For example, Store No. 002, “Mr. Loomfs Wonderful Land of Magical Beasts” was described as:
    • This Magical Creature Shop is owned by Ledeley Loomf, a mysterious wizard from an undisclosed land, which specializes in the rescuing of lost creatures from nearby realms beyond Potterville, such as Westeros and Middle Earth. Each creature is here by choice and comes with up to date cross realm permits.
  • Detailed lesson plans:
    • The workshop will kick off with a brief discussion about film and how films are conceptualized through art by explaining the relationship of the director, production designers, and designers. “What is a director?” “Movies begin with a vision. Without that vision it will never get made, that’s where you come in. Let’s take a look at some examples.”

Project prompt and sample store description created by Alvin Oei.

The Next Level Brothers: D'Angelo and Martel McCornell

The Next Level Brothers: D’Angelo and Martel McCornell

And he gathered a talented team of like-minded students who wanted to make a difference. He tapped into the student organization UNITY, founded by the powerhouse duo, D’Angelo and Martel McCornell, better known as The Next Level Brothers, who designed a program to teach the process of making a film and capturing a story. Russell Singer, a Graduate Transportation Design student, was recruited to teach the kids how to create objects out of basic shapes and figures. Product Design student Vanessa Shababzadeh (also affiliated with UNITY as its vice president) created products for the project and Environmental Design student Leo Su made models based on the kids’ sketches and storyboards. He also recruited fellow Environmental Design students Jessica Rovanio and Sean Chen. As Oei explains, the lesson he learned about leadership was, “make sure you have a good team.”

The result was an incredible program that included creating floor plans, storyboarding, filming and culminated in presentations, Art Center style, to the parents. Albert Hernandez, Director of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena, said, “It was a great experience for the kids because not only were they learning all this neat stuff but it also showed them that there are great people in this world who care about them, who came out and volunteered their time to be engaged with them and offered such a great learning experience.”

Bringing UNITY through ART Reach at the Boys & Girls Club from The Next Level Brothers on Vimeo.

Oei wants to continue this good work so he created Art Reach, an official Art Center student organization, for other students to be able to give back directly to kids in the community using their collective talents and ideas as leaders. Associate Director, Leadership & Student Activities Celeste Guerneri, who is the Art Reach organization advisor, sums Oei up succinctly, “Alvin is an inspired young man. He is the future of Art Center for sure!”

Are Art Center students going to do great things and change the world? They already are.

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