skip to Main Content

The Society of Illustrators in collaboration with NYC Parks Offers Free Online Arts Programing to Bronx Students

Twenty years ago, in collaboration with NYC Parks, the Society of Illustrators created the Winter and Spring Drawing Academies to reach NYC youth living in neighborhoods in need of free arts programming. These programs expose students ages 9-13 to illustration and careers in the arts through workshops with accomplished illustrators and comic art professionals. Typically, students are transported from their recreation center to the Society of Illustrators where they spend an entire morning creating art. 

This year, the program was restructured and offered online during after school hours from February 23-26. Art supplies were shipped to the Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center and Hunts Point Recreation Center in the Bronx. Students received a sketchbook, drawing pencil, colored pencils, charcoal, eraser, and pencil sharpener. Materials for the Arts also contributed collage making materials for one of the sessions. Each afternoon students participated in an online workshop and learned a different art making technique. 

On the first day, illustrator Ted Michaloswki taught a lesson on figure-drawing. Students were inspired by model Emperor Vanity’s Mad Hatters Tea Party themed costume and background. The next day, comic artist  Fran Meneses led a portrait drawing workshop. She began by breaking down the face and drawing each facial feature. Students practiced combining all of the elements by drawing one another. On the third day, illustrator Ed Murr explored shape language and how different shapes can communicate emotions. Students drew along with Ed as they chose different shapes to create a villainous character. On the final day, Materials for the Arts teaching artist Omar Olivera demonstrated contour drawing and instructed students how to create a self portrait using collage materials. 

All of the students were expressive and excited to share their art with the group. The last question from the students was, “When will you be back to draw with us?”. 

The Spring Drawing Academy will follow the same online format and will take place in early May with NYC Parks After School Recreation Centers in Queens. 

Like other NYC art institutions, the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators was closed to the public from March 14 to September 9 due to COVID-19. Regardless of the closure, the 120-year-old nonprofit arts organization’s dedicated staff of eight continued to advance its mission of promoting the art of illustration by restructuring programs and exhibits online that ultimately served 50,000 members and friends worldwide in 2020. These visual art services are only made possible through grants, donations and membership dues. To learn more about becoming an SI member and making a tax-deductible contribution, contact Marketing & Business Manager Lindsay Nichols at 212-838-2560 or

In addition to private foundations, The Winter & Spring Drawing Academies are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  

Back To Top