WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Chris Watts helped children at the Post Road Elementary School prepare African dolls for the Harlem Fine Arts Show at the Reckson Center, where he also displayed several of his paintings Thursday night.
The Harlem Fine Arts Show is an annual event founded five years ago by Dion Clarke to celebrate the African diaspora. Leading up to the Feb. 7 showcase, Clarke collaborates with community organizations to get the word out about the show, including the White Plains Youth Bureau. The Youth Bureau and the Westchester Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. presented their show for the second year Thursday at the Reckson Center, 360 Hamilton Ave. It is the only showcase in Westchester.
Watts, 21, joined the Youth Bureau at the age of 13. Now he volunteers with its After School Connection program at the Post Road Elementary School, helping kids with their homework.
White Plains pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade involved in the Youth Bureau used scraps of fabric to make African Dolls for sale at the Harlem Fine Arts Show. Students had made the African Dolls in past years as part of the Hand Made Doll Project, which sent hundreds of dolls to South Africa.
“A doll can cheer up a child’s life,” said Frank Williams, executive director of the Youth Bureau. “It’s amazing what you can do with art.”
The kids in the after school programs at White Plains schools toured the Harlem Fine Arts Show after school Thursday. Watts said he showed some of the kids he works with at Post Road School his artwork.
“I really like for the kids to see the work because they’re the harshest critics,” he said.
Williams was appreciative that Watts returned to work with the Youth Bureau after graduating from high school, because he serves as an example for those still in the program.
“It’s really wonderful to have them see people who are living this work and breathing this work,” Williams said. “It shows them that, if they continue to work hard, they can reach this pinnacle too.”
Another Youth Bureau alumnus, Marckenson Luctama, showed his work at the event Thursday. The Westchester Community College student also participated in last year’s show, where he sold one of his pieces. Another piece displayed the names of survivors, some in his family, of the Haiti earthquake.
Current Youth Bureau students Deijah Daniels, 17, and Tabitha Glashen, 17, displayed their work. In addition to art, sculpture, photography and other mediums, a live band, Cliff Lee Plus Three, played at the event Thursday. Cliff Lee is famed director, producer, writer and actor Spike Lee’s father, and plays trumpet for the band.