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Meet Taylor Childs

by Rachael Thomas on June 28, 2023

Detroit fiber artist and instructor for Hope for Flowers’ Youth Art Enrichment program

 

Taylor Childs

Taylor Childs is a multidisciplinary creative with a passion for uplifting Detroit’s youth and cultivating their artistic abilities.The 27-year-old Detroiter works with various art mediums — including fiber, sewing, painting, and drawing — to create work that reflects themes of family, the African diaspora, the perception of people, and consumerism. Childs has volunteered at community art spaces for a decade and taught art in classrooms for five years. Before joining our team as the youth arts instructor, she taught drawing and crafts and fibers to seventh and 12th graders at University Prep Schools in Detroit. Childs is currently working on her Master of Fine Arts in Fiber at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she studies under fiber artist Mark Newport. 

As the instructor for our Youth Art Enrichment program, Child nurtures the creative talent of our students and introduces them to sustainable art practices. This free program runs for eight weeks at a time and is open to children ages 7 to 12 who attend Detroit public or charter schools. 

 

Following an afternoon class in late May — during which students learned about collage artist Evita Tezeno and made their own collages using old magazines — Childs sat down to talk about teaching our youth art courses, her own art background, and the joy she finds in community art. 

 

Hope for Flowers: Tell us more about what you teach the kids in our Youth Art Enrichment program? 

Taylor Childs: I really wanted to focus on teaching kids mixed-media art because I was a community arts baby. I took a lot of CCS’ pre-college classes and that was the only time that I could explore non-traditional mediums. So, I really want to push clay and weaving, and teach the kids how to touch fiber. I want it to be accessible to our kids.


During our youth art enrichment courses, Childs aims to expose students to many kinds of art mediums, including creating with clay. 

How do you create the curriculum for the classes? 

Mandisa Smith, Hope for Flowers Director of Art Enrichment, and I often talk about what the kids want to do, then we propose it to Tracy. If she wants to tweak, add something or pivot in a different way, we will go over that, then we'll do the classroom run. We're starting to study the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We did a quilting session for our UNSDG goals. We try to keep the classes interesting and new and if we do a repeat project, we try to alternate different mediums within the eight-week session.  I'm already thinking about the next session;we are planning bookmaking which I think our students will really enjoy!

 

Another part of the curriculum is teaching the students about a different artist each week. How are those featured artists chosen? 

You can tell we're really artists because Mandisa and I are always thinking, “OK, that project first,” and then we're like, “OK, this is an artist that will be great for that project.” With Mandisa, it’s interesting because she has such a long history of Detroit and the art that’s here. I'm bringing my perspective on my friends who are starting to become artists. So it's a great, rich collaboration between younger and older artists. I get educated in the process. 

 


Each class, Childs presents a new artist for the students to learn about. She displays examples of the featured artist’s work for the students to look at while creating their own projects.

 

What have been the most rewarding moments while teaching these students? 

The connection. I'm really relationship-based; at Detroit University Prep, where I taught high school students, our framework was restorative learning, so that's still in me. Also, seeing that students get excited about certain things. I think that's always a teacher's “aha moment.” It’s also important to know when students are upset about something that they're not mastering. For example, one of the students, Mauriciauna, and her figure drawing; she was crying [and upset] because the figure wasn't “10 heads tall.” And I'm thinking, that's such a beautiful problem; it just shows that you are invested in what's happening here. We’ve had kids who come just because their parents want them to come but they are always happier by the end of the session! They might be shy at the beginning but by the end of class they are excited and talking to people! Those are the best moments!

 

How does teaching the youth art courses impact your own personal and professional goals as a creative? 

It's inspiring to see Tracy create this type of multifaceted business and to know her story and her background. She’s from Detroit and graduated from Cass Technical High School. There is a wonderful community of women at Hope for Flowers. It’s more than just, “OK, I'll hire you”, it’s, “What shows are you doing? How’s Cranbrook?” And “How are you as a creative? What challenges are you navigating being in a predominately white space?” So, it's really beautiful having Tracy and Mandisa. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Childs’ work is inspired by her own family, as well as themes of “bling culture” and consumerism and how they affect Black Americans. She enjoys using color and working with various materials to create interesting textures. Photographs courtesy of Taylor Childs

 

In the future, I want to create my own nonprofit. I find a lot of passion with kids creating textiles - specifically sewing. I would love to bring resources, like fabric stores, to the city because there's none that are really accessible. I really want to focus on teaching people about fiber, as well as continue showing my work at galleries. I also want to participate in more community projects. I love this work!

 

Are you interested in our Youth Art Enrichment sessions? Learn more about our Art Enrichment Program. To learn more about Taylor Childs and view her work, visit her website

 

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