Museum Making Connections: ArtWorks! MMC: ArtWorks! is a national award-winning program developed in 2000, to combat youth violence and provide positive alternatives to teens. The program provides project-based education, led by professional artists. ArtWorks! serves approximately 15 under-served youths at a time; keeping this number low allows for significant development of relationships between the artists and the participants. The success of this approach is reflected in the fact that many of the same teens have returned to join ArtWorks! for multiple projects.

For the first several years of the program, the teens created public sculptures which are now located throughout the community and on the grounds of HMA. One of the program’s most impactful projects was Building Blocks, a 28' aluminum sculpture erected at the foot of the Robert C. Byrd Bridge at 6th Street. Building Blocks was honored with a National Award of Merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment. The award was given jointly to HMA, the Huntington Housing Authority and the City of Huntington. Winning a national award was truly a life-altering experience for the teens involved, and was a powerful lesson that they could, with cooperation and hard work, give a valuable gift to their community.

ArtWorks! has evolved over the years in response to the composition and needs of the groups of teens it serves. In early programs the teens worked with one artist to create a single project. In other years the program participants worked with several different artists during the eight Saturdays of the program. Regardless of the format or the project, the teens are provided with opportunities for mentoring as well as exposure to a wide variety of materials and processes. ArtWorks!, a project-based learning program, provides opportunities for teens to practice critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, creativity and communication.

ArtWorks! offers its participants huge opportunities for personal growth and the mentorship of a caring adult professional. One ArtWorks! teen developed just such a relationship with the artist leading her workshop: he was a faculty member at an area college. They kept in touch over time, and he encouraged and assisted her with the admissions and financial aid processes at his college, where she later enrolled. Clearly, involvement in the ArtWorks! program can result in the development of life skills and personal relationships that will serve these teens well in their future jobs and life pathways.


Reclaiming the Urban Landscape is a mosaic wall at the Barnett Center.
Reclaiming the Urban Landscape is a mosaic wall at the Barnett Center.

Bridges is on Main Street in Guyandotte.
Bridges is on Main Street in Guyandotte.

The Circle of Life is on an exterior wall at HMA.
The Circle of Life is on an exterior wall at HMA.

Windows in downtown Huntington.
Windows in downtown Huntington.

Award-winning sculpture, Building Blocks in downtown Huntington
Award-winning sculpture, Building Blocks in downtown Huntington