Common Connections

By Olivia Frakt

To me, one of the most important parts of my upbringing was my ability to express myself in a creative way. I grew up at Follow Your Art and was constantly watching and learning about different ways of expression. I learned how positive influences have a large impact on young lives, and that sharing artwork with one another is the open door to the freedom of self-expression. By sharing and collaborating on works of art, connections are formed between students and teachers of any age. These connections are what make me want to share my work with others. I think creative connections help us understand other people and help other people understand us, something teenagers don’t get to experience a lot.

Young artists and writers aren’t given enough space to express themselves in the ways they choose. Art and writing classes in schools are centered around prompts and questions. Although these have their benefits, making art and writing stories for the purpose of expressing oneself should be celebrated. In creating The Common, a digital journal for teens, I wanted to design a way for youth to have their work viewed and appreciated as a collection. Throughout my experience, first as a teenager and second through watching other teens, I’ve noticed a lack of positive association with self-expression. As a young person, there’s a lot of pressure to look and act a certain way, making creative outlets like writing and producing art vital to self-expression. My hope is that The Common creates a positive space for teenagers to share their personal pieces and feel seen as an artist and creator.

As a young person, there’s a lot of pressure to look and act a certain way, making creative outlets like writing and producing art vital to self-expression.

To be honest, the creation of The Common really came from the pieces themselves. I didn’t give students who submitted any direction as to what they could publish. I received three stunning digital designs, a beautiful short essay, and two lovely poems. These pieces appear in the inaugural issue of the journal and were created in Neema Avashia’s writing workshops and Chiara Pieri’s Open Studio classes for teens at FYACS this spring. The pieces revolve around fantasy and nature. They talk about exploring the unexplored, discovering the new and appreciating the beauty right in front of you. This edition of the journal highlights the beauty of spring and change.

I have high hopes for The Common. I would love to be able to publish work from not only the students who take classes at Follow Your Art, but creative teens across Melrose and neighboring areas. Through the coming school year, I hope to publish many more editions, highlighting student art and written work across a variety of genres and themes.

“the fells” by Gino, published in the inaugural issue of The Common

Olivia Frakt is a rising senior at Melrose High School and has been surrounded by the Follow Your Art community her whole life. In addition to her creative pursuits as a writer (essays for school mostly) and an artist, Olivia has loved any opportunity to teach and collaborate with kids and other youth, either at FYACS or elsewhere. Her newest passion is rock climbing, which unexpectedly provides opportunities for creative problem solving!

Read more stories on Palette.