Edition 25— Mattaya Fitts, Visual Artist and Muralist

Good Surprises

Mattaya Fitts can’t imagine herself not painting. (Photo by Ally Schmaling)

There’s a big misconception out there about artists: to create art is a decision they made, a chosen occupation. The truth is most artists don’t choose to make art for a living, they just can’t imagine themselves doing anything else.

Mattaya Fitts’ story details how she returned to a passion for painting, a destination which surely would have surprised her teenage self, who worked almost exclusively in Artist For Humanity’s Photography Studio. Mattaya explains this twist of events,

“I liked painting, I admired it, but I didn’t think I was a great…

Edition 24 — Théry Badin

A New Perspective

Badin pictured as a teen at AFH.

Coming from a strict Caribbean household as a first generation immigrant, 14 year old Théy Badin was a brilliant student. He excelled in subjects like math and science and took part in multiple extracurriculars including STEM camps in the summer and Certamen, a quiz-bowl style game that focused on Latin, Greek, and classical civilizations. Truth be told, Badin only held a faint interest in art, which merely involved doodles in his notebook, comic books, and his affinity for museums.

When Badin’s friends at Boston Latin Academy told him about AFH, he didn’t…

Edition 23 — Stephanie Wu

A Collective Community

Wu pictured at AFH as an Exhibitions Intern.

While Stephanie Wu was drawing long before she’d ever heard of Artists For Humanity, AFH is where she first discovered what it means to have an artist community. Now, as a recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a BFA in Illustration, Wu holds a dream of one day opening her own independent publishing studio and artist collective. “I put a lot of emphasis on community and having a community when you’re doing work,” she said. “I don’t think I could be doing any of my work alone.”


Edition 22 — Amanda Pelrine

A ‘Worth It’ Job

A teenage Pelrine pictured at AFH.

At 16-years old, Amanda Pelrine was in search of an easy job and a quick paycheck. When her friends at Boston Latin Academy told her about AFH, she believed she’d found it. “It ended up being a lot more of an experience than I thought it was going to be,” Pelrine admitted, smiling. “It wasn’t just a quick paycheck. I would have done [this job] for the full three years that I was there without getting paid at all because it was just so impactful — such a ‘worth it’ job.”

Edition 21—Stephen Cronin

A Family That Spreads

Of all things, t-shirts are what brought Stephen Cronin to Artists For Humanity’s doors.

Introduced to the program through a family friend who had previous children involved in the program, Cronin came to AFH in search of their Screen Printing Studio.

“I think I just walked in and asked,” he said, recalling his determination at joining the studio and the subsequent details he learned about the program. …

Edition 20 — Aristotle Forrester

In Real Time

Forrester spends the day in his studio.

Aristotle Forrester has been surrounded by art all his life; his mother is a visual artist and he began painting in the first grade. “I was making paintings in school instead of learning how to do math,” he laughed.

Forrester grew up in the South Side of Chicago, which he recalled as a richly diverse environment. But when he was a teenager, he moved with his mother to Needham, Massachusetts, which was very different from the South Side. “There’s a real isolation that comes with being one of the very few Black…

Edition 19 — Amy Zahlaway

The First Job I Loved

Amy Zahlaway talks about finding her professional confidence at AFH. (Photo by Patrice Vinci Salon)

Amy Zahlaway is a jack of all trades. She earned a fair share of job experience at Artists For Humanity: first as a teen videographer, then an assistant film mentor, and finally, a recruitment coordinator. Later she worked in communications at the Lewis Family Foundation. Now she’s a hairstylist at Patrice Vinci Salon on Newbury street.

Whether it was producing media or styling hair, Amy insists that every single one of these jobs employ the skills and confidence she developed at AFH.

“AFH shows people, especially adults, the importance of the creative industry for youth…

Edition 18 — Frenell Jean-Georges

Greatness Around Us

Frenell Jean-Georges pictured in his paint studio. (Image courtesy of Jonathan Turner)

When he was 14-years old, Frenell Jean-Georges tagged along with one of his friends to his after-school job at Artists For Humanity. He instantly wanted to be a part of the organization.

Jean-Georges then spent the next six years working for AFH. Twenty years later, he is still close to the people and the ideas he encountered at the nonprofit.

Leading up to AFH, Jean-Georges’s art education had been sparse. In high school, he had taken a television production class that focused on the technical, rather than artistic, elements of TV. …

Edition 17 — Ludgy Jean-Baptiste

A Cheat Code

A self-portrait by Ludgy Jean-Baptiste.

As a child, Ludgy Jean-Baptiste watched a lot of Looney Tunes — to the point that he could tell which director was behind the segment, based on the way the characters were drawn. “I would record episodes on VHS and freeze frame certain parts to see how they had the characters go from Point A to Point B. I studied, but I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing,” he said.

Now, Jean-Baptiste lives in Dorchester, Boston where he works as an art educator and a freelance cartoonist. He has worked with…

Edition 16 — Anna Tsui, Life and Business Coach

Always Growing

Anna Tsui’s smile and personality shine through our pixelated video call.

“Growth. We were always growing. We were moving. There was always a momentum.”

Anna Tsui was a teen at Artists For Humanity almost 20 years ago, in 2001, yet she can still describe her experiences with clarity and attention to the organization’s dynamic energy. Although the interview’s video quality is limited, Anna Tsui’s smile and personality shine through the pixelated screen.

As an executive coach, Anna helps business owners identify their brand and engage their clients to realize their potential for success. She’s grown Anna Tsui Life and Business Coaching into…

Artists For Humanity


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