Coding Can Be Your Paintbrush: Art Blocks + Street Code Academy – A Generative Art Workshop

 In PVF News

By James Higa, Executive Director

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You may have heard or read about Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), but are not quite sure what all the ballyhoo is about. With emerging technologies, it is often the case that underrepresented populations have historically been left behind and the last to benefit from important technology trends. We aimed to close this opportunity gap by bringing knowledge first instead of last into East Palo Alto.

An important transformation happening in art is known as ‘generative art’. It’s art generated by a computer algorithm created by the artist, instead of painted by hand. The art is sold in a digital form known as an NFT.

The preeminent platform for generative art is Art Blocks. They have been at the forefront of a revolution in how art is now created and enjoyed. On October 2nd, Art Blocks sent two well known and successful generative artists from across the country to teach a workshop for the students of Street Code Academy in East Palo Alto. PVF has been one of the earliest funders of the work of Street Code Academy to mentor and teach youth, young adults, and community members coding, social media, and other technology skills.

An introductory morning workshop for students with no coding experience and an afternoon master class for students who have had previous coding instruction were conducted. The students learned about the basic tools and principals of how to create art by writing code. By the end of the class, the students were programming and generating their own works of art. They learned that coding can be more than writing programs or apps, coding can be your paint brush. It can be a form of self expression and a way to unleash your creativity.

The second part of this project is that the actual generative art the students created in the workshop will be displayed in January on 20 different billboards in the Bay Area, alongside the artwork of Art Block artists through the generous donation of Art Blocks, Art Blocks collectors, and SaveArtSpace. Imagine in your mind a young girl, who attended this generative art workshop, pointing at the art she created on a billboard bigger than life, and saying to her proud parents and friends, ‘I did that. This is what I want to do’. We think this could just transform the arc of a youth’s life.

At PVF, radical collaboration is in our DNA. This generative art workshop was truly a cross sector collaborative effort between Art Blocks, Street Code Academy, SaveArtSapce and PVF. And if you are wondering what the #generativegeneration of youths’ art looks like, here’s a sample. We can’t wait to see it out in the wild, in real life, on billboards in the Bay Area.

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