Nurture the Creative Mind's painted piano - converted flower bed can be seen at Ogden's Union Station. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)
Nurture the Creative Mind’s painted piano – converted flower bed can be seen at Ogden’s Union Station. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)

Nurture the Creative Mind is a nonprofit organization geared toward helping kids with self confidence, self expression and character development. Their website states that their mission is to “focus on the establishment of self empowerment and value through the means of creativity.”

For the past four summers NCM has created beautiful artwork out of pianos that have been donated or purchased with the help of the city’s Recreation Arts Museums and Parks project. According to Amir Jackson, founder of NCM, This project started out as a small idea.

“It was sort of like a flash mob,” Jackson said. The group painted a piano and just put it out on the street. “We didn’t know what would come of it, or how it would be received.”

The piano project has become a recognizable part of NCM in the Ogden community. It’s brought a lot of awareness to the organization and according to Jackson it becomes sort of a gateway. When people learn about the pianos, they start to look into the organization more.

“The awareness that we get and the branding that we gain is well worth the work,” Jackson said.

Since then NCM paints more pianos each year. It provides a sense of community and has an organic feel, according to Jackson. He also added that finding artists to work on the pianos with kids involved in NCM is not difficult. In fact, there seems to be more artists who want to become involved than pianos. NCM plans to have seven or eight pianos out this summer.

“We probably had about 20 people reach out who wanted to help with the project,” Jackson said.

The artists who end up getting first dibs are the ones who are more heavily involved with NCM, Jackson said. They choose from that group before asking a pool of people to be involved.

Alysson Galarza, an artist and teacher at Roy Jr. High, helped create one of the first pianos for NCM this summer. She wanted a final project that was fun, but also involved the community. The piano project was a perfect fit.

It was Galarza’s first project with the organization and being involved was an amazing experience for her.

“I can’t describe how awesome it was for the kids,” she said. The kids stayed late after school to finish the project, and according to Galarza, they didn’t want to leave. “I had to basically kick them out,” she added.

Because NCM is focused on self empowerment, the organization doesn’t dictate how the pianos are to be decorated. “We allow the students along with the artists to come up with the idea,” Jackson said.

For the kids involved in this project, it offers them a sense of pride. “It’s important for the kids to see their work being appreciated by other people,” Jackson said. According to Jackson, it’s good for the kids to see someone admiring their work or to be able to show their friends what they’ve done. “It’s one of those tangible outcomes,” Jackson said.

Galarza also said that is was great for the students to be able to see people interacting with their project. “They have a platform in the community and they were heard and seen,” she said. “For them watching the community engage in their artwork was really powerful.”

While the piano project provides a lot for the kids involved, NCM is a great place for kids to go during the summer. The organization helps kids stay active. NCM teaches kids that learning can be fun with hands on activities.

“If we can help the school system with attaching something positive with education and learning, then I feel like we’ve done our part,” Jackson said.

Along with the importance of feeling accomplished, the arts in general are important for kids. Ogden is a budding art community allowing people to unite.

“I think art naturally brings people together,” Jackson said. The mission for the piano project was to do exactly that.

 

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