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Engaging Young Minds: Inspiring Tomorrow's Artists at the Brentwood Boys & Girls Club Career Fair


Artist Katie Peña presenting at the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club Career Fair in Raleigh, NC

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Brentwood Boys & Girls Club Career Fair, an event organized by the Junior League of Raleigh. This annual fair aims to expose young students to a diverse array of professions, from fitness and health to art and science, fostering a spirit of curiosity and ambition within our community's youth.


Artist Katie Peña engaging young minds at the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club Career Fair in Raleigh, NC

Setting up in the familiar surroundings of the art room, I prepared to share my journey as a professional artist with the eager minds of elementary and middle school-aged children. My table boasted a display of my artwork, accompanied by engaging slideshows showcasing the creation process behind some of my most notable projects, including mesmerizing time-lapses of paintings and murals. Alongside these visuals, I laid out various tools of my trade – paint brushes, palettes, and headphones, essential companions in my artistic endeavors. But I also infused a touch of Hollywood into the mix by incorporating mementos from my tenure in the film industry into the display. This served to bridge the gap between two seemingly distinct career paths – illustrating how my experiences working on movies and TV shows have influenced my art. Additionally, it allowed me to share how my artistic skills seamlessly lent themselves to my work in Hollywood.



As the young visitors filtered through the room, their curiosity sparked a flurry of questions. From inquiries about my favorite aspects of the job to the inevitable query about what I disliked most (cue the unanimous agreement on the nuisance of “cleanup duty”), their genuine interest in my craft was palpable. A select few were so captivated by the world of art that they were eager to share their own creative experiences and aspirations.


One particularly amusing anecdote involved a Ranunculus painting that I brought for display along with a gentle reminder to “touch with your eyes only, please,” which was met with a literal interpretation as a young boy attempted to press his bare eyeball against the canvas! It was moments like these that infused the event with laughter and warmth, reminding me of the joy that comes from connecting with young minds eager to explore the boundless possibilities of their futures.


Raleigh artist Katie Peña answering questions from children at career fair

What struck me most was the realization that my influence extended beyond the realm of fine art alone. While I proudly shared my journey as a painter, I also delved into my experiences working on popular Nickelodeon TV shows like Danger Force, Henry Danger, and the Thundermans Return movie, igniting a spark of recognition and excitement among the children, many of whom were avid fans of these franchises. In that moment, I wasn't just a painter – I was a storyteller, weaving narratives of creativity and imagination that transcended the confines of any single career path.

 

Reflecting on my time at the Brentwood Boys & Girls Club Career Fair fills me with a profound sense of fulfillment. To think that I may have inspired even just one young mind to pursue their artistic passions is a testament to the power of community engagement and mentorship. As I packed up my display, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the opportunity to share my story and ignite the spark of possibility within the next generation of artists and storytellers. After all, in a world where the concept of the "starving artist" has been rendered obsolete, the horizon stretches infinitely before us, brimming with opportunity and potential.


-Katie


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