You started as a student in Print 4 Life, the screen printing program that Arts Corps T.A. Greg Thorton leads. Can you tell us about your experience in the program and how it impacted you?
My name is Maryem Weini and when I was around the age of 16 years old, I was a bad kiddo. It was then that I first met Claire, who worked at the King County juvenile detention center. I was on probation when we first met, and she told my probation officer that she was trying to help young youth like me fix their lives and get off probation. Claire shared with my probation officer that her husband Greg [Thorton] was starting a program called Print 4 Life. I wasn’t trying to do any of that around that time, but I had to so I could get off probation. As I started Print 4 Life, I met Greg and he introduced me to screen printing. Honestly, I was so confused on what I was supposed to be doing.
Time changed and I started to get more and more engaged in screen printing. I felt so much LOVE, SUPPORT, and MOTIVATION. I can honestly say that if I had never had this opportunity to feel so much LOVE from somebody, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. During Print 4 Life, Greg and Claire showed and gave me SO MUCH!!! Print 4 Life impacted me by showing me a different path in life. I’ve grown so much and my art has also improved a lot. I LOVE making shirts now. Screen printing was an amazing experience which I needed in my life.
Now you’re a classroom assistant! What made you decide to take on this role and come back to a classroom?
I LOVE KIDS!!! Having this AMAZING spot in life where I get to call myself Miss Maryem, an after school visual arts teacher’s assistant, makes me get out of bed everyday to come see all these natural born artists. Coming back into a classroom is different now because I’m the teacher’s assistant, getting everything set up and ready to go. It’s great just sitting next to all the artists, and viewing their work makes me feel strong everyday because I’m sharing the strength with them.
What have been some challenges that you’ve faced as a faculty? What have been some rewarding moments? What is something you’re excited for?
To be honest, I haven’t really faced any challenges while working as a faculty member that I haven’t been able to overcome. One of my most rewarding moments is staying with Art Corps, from being introduced when I was a bad kiddo at the age of 16 to this strong motivated woman who’s 22 years old- it’s been a strong 7 years. What I’m most excited for is to actually become a visual arts teacher, not just the teacher’s assistant – not that I mind being an assistant, because this is giving me the foundation to actually become that teacher.
Arts Corps is kicking off a fundraising season we’re calling “Rise & Bloom.” It’s taking the place of a single annual gala that we called “Festa.” What does the theme mean to you?
Rising up everyday to face challenges daily. While facing challenges in life – both now and later – people can carry motivation, success and ambition in a little or big way which will help them keep striving to become that flowery bloom.
How can we nurture young people so that they can RISE & BLOOM as their true self? What role do you think art education has in this nurturing?
By encouraging their young hearts, minds and acknowledging their success small and big. Arts nurturing their young minds gives them an avenue for self experience.
What are some of your own creative practices and current projects? How can people support you?
I love coloring, drawing and working on puzzles. A current project I’m working on is my second lesson plan for one of my visual art classes where I’m getting mentored by Greg. Also people can keep supporting me by just being great!!!!!!