Collage by Lauren Tepfer.

Collage by Lauren Tepfer.

Teen Art Salon

Teen Art Salon, established by Isabella Bustamante, is a New York City–based IRL arts platform for teenagers. Every Friday from 4 to 7 PM, and Saturday from 2 to 6 PM, teens are welcome to use the studio space free of charge to propose projects, make connections, and collaborate. Young artists, activists, philosophers, writers, makers, and dreamers are welcome. I emailed with Isabella, as well as with Alex Arauz and Maya Greenberg, both of whom are artists regularly attending Teen Art Salon’s open studios.

LAUREN TEPFER: What is the mission behind Teen Art Salon?

ISABELLA BUSTAMANTE: Teen Art Salon supports, develops, and promotes the creative pursuits of adolescents locally, in New York City, and across North America. Our studio space is dedicated to providing a forum for teens to discuss ideas and make creative contributions, as our society’s urban infrastructure has neglected to design spaces for teenagers to congregate and to nurture their artistic ambitions. Teen Art Salon’s Open Studios and Residency Program provides 13- to 19-year-olds a free co-working space, as well as the opportunity to propose projects and collaborate with peers. Our mission is to cultivate an environment where critical inquiry, artistic experimentation, and social inclusion leads to self-empowerment, self-motivation, and social empathy.

Why are young artists so important to you?

ISABELLA BUSTAMANTE: The art world is an exclusive and extremely privatized sphere. This, alongside the passive devaluation of culture in our society, puts us at risk of losing a generation of artists and innovators, our greatest champions of social justice! I always say that kids have parks, and adults have bars, but there is really no place for teens to go to connect with others and experiment artistically. My intention has always been to empower young people as the game changers of our cultural landscape, but also just to give them the opportunity to make work and make friends in a space where they can express themselves comfortably.

Has Teen Art Salon affected the way you approach your art?

ALEX ARAUZ: I’m really inspired by the people around me and what I see in how we interpret and digest the world. TAS is a great place for this, as I am surrounded by people who have a similar creative drive, who can relate to and discuss art (among other things) and how we see it through the lens of someone our age, in this time. It’s been, like, so deeply valuable that Isabella pushes us to make new things or go further with what we’re doing if someone feels stuck or “done.”

What have you learned since working with Teen Art Salon?

MAYA GREENBERG: I’ve learned a lot more about art history through Teen Art Salon. Isabella has a plethora of resources that allow for fun skimming. I also learned more about what it means to be an artist and the vast possibilities of art making. I learned about the value in experimenting with media, as well as subject matter, in order to truly hone your skills, as well as artistic ideas. ♦