The Opportunity To Be Courageous

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” -Georgia O’Keeffe

I still remember the day I waked into a strange facility with strange people and strange activities.  I still remember feeling the curiosity and nervousness of working beside sixteen other strange boys I have never seen before.  This was my first day at the Georgia O’Keeffe Art and Leadership Program for Boys.  This was five years ago– when I was a anxious, unconfident, tiny boy with not a clue about what this strange program consisted of.

Now, that I have had the privilege of being a high school intern, I have come to truly realize the amazing benefits I gained from fun activities done in the program.  “O’K Boys” (the slang term for participants in the boys program) have the opportunity to express themselves through many forms of art.  From drawing favored phenomena, to playing interactive theatre games, to participating in seminars about important topics, O’K Boys not only discover themselves, but discover how they can be a better artist, friend, listener, speaker, friend, leader, and individual overall.  Also, the boys gain inspiring mentorships from the college and high school interns.  Hopefully I, along with interns Maw Dawson and Jonathan Tibbets, who also attended, are evidence of how this program serves young men well.

My mission as an intern is to give back the great times and skills I learned from interns when I was in the program.  I strive to not only teach the boys about art techniques, but be a positive role model as well. It is around the middle of the summer and two groups of boys have already passed through.  I am glad to see many boys formulate and grow from what this program offers.  Again, this strange aura that boys experience at first allows them to wet their feet on unknown ground; it allows them to see things from a different perspective and break walls of provincial and stereotypical thinking.  Georgia O’Keeffe once mentioned how courage is necessary if one is to indulge in the arts.  This goes for more than just filling a blank page or getting a new toolbox full of art supplies– it is the valuable friendships, mentorships, the countless memories of fun with peers, and a braver outlook to face the world with.  The Art and Leadership Program for Boys proves just how important this “strange,” new feeling is because just as happiness cannot be achieved without sadness, courage cannot be achieved without the opportunity to be courageous.

This program has instilled courage in me and I am honored to now try to pass this on to new participants.  On behalf of myself and probably everyone else involved in this program, I greatly thank anyone who made this program possible.  May we all have courage in our lives.

Diego Rigales, 2015 High School Intern for the Georgia O’Keeffe Art and Leadership Program