Member Portrait Gallery and Quotes

Intern Eliza Hicks spent the summer creating these compelling Youth member portraits and doing numerous interviews. The photos were shot in the Youth Media Arts room and we love how they turned out with the colorful lights! Check out these samples from her gallery show that premiered at Futureworlds: Escape from Jollyworld.


“AS220 Youth is a second family and a home. It’s an escape from everywhere else. This place helped me learn to have an open mind. People are real towards you and they tell you if they think your work is trash. Also, this place has helped me to find creative jobs. I teach digital photography and film photography in the darkroom.”

Gabe Rondon


“AS220 Youth is a home away from home and I feel like I’m with my siblings. This is a space where you can be yourself and not worry about feeling embarrassed. I think about how I can improve myself here and it’s fun. It’s much better when I have a say in what I’m making. Everyone is friendly here, no one has ever been mean. They are just chill and accepting, not judgmental. People here want to come here, have common interests, and are driven to do art. Art is therapy, it relieves you from stress and from school.”

Ronnie Zai
Zai Blizzy


“I’ve been coming to AS220 for about three years, but I was always in the music group. It’s my first time here in the painting group. I want to learn new stuff to make my own clothing brand. I’m excited to work with different materials and try to sew. I haven’t drawn before at a serious level so it’s exciting to try something new. I like the vibe at AS220 Youth, and they give you skills for other jobs. There are few work places where I can be myself and I feel like I’m more welcomed and accepted here. AS220 Youth is the gateway to new opportunities because now I can design for other people.”

andry garcia
Andry Garcia


“After my second week being here, I’ve learned that I like getting to work with different people because the creativity is coming from everyone and you get feedback. The most creative work I make is when I work with other people and when there aren’t a lot of restrictions. I’m excited to film and try new effects. I like the AS220 Youth’s mottos “hateration gets no toleration” and “don’t yuck my yum” because I have my own personal style and what I like might not be what you like. I also like working for FutureWorlds because I have to work to other people’s standards, and this helps me learn new things.”


“I came to AS220 Youth at the start of this school year. At the beginning I would never do cyphers, but now it’s easy dancing in front of others. Now I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I like learning new things like contemporary dance, and I love hip hop. AS220Youth keeps me open minded because you see different moves every day. The dance room is a place where you can be yourself and learn about emotions through dance. The performance at PVD fest was the first time the rest of my family saw me dance. My family asked “when did you get into dancing? You’re so good. ” That made me feel proud. When I was young, I was so shy on stage, but now I came out of my shell.”

liliana Feliz-Castillo
Liliana Feliz <br> Castillo


“I’ve met a lot of cool people here and now I’m making art everyday so I’m getting a lot better at it. I love drawing faces and eyes because it makes me feel confident and happy with myself. Before I would say that “I’m trash”, but now when I hear compliments I say “thanks” and don’t put them down. I’m usually antisocial, but AS220 Youth takes away my shyness because I like people who like similar things. Everyone is uplifting here so it feels like a safe place. I’ve become more confident than I’ve ever been this summer. I’ve always wanted to become a tattoo artist because tattoos make me confident and they are a form of self-expression. If you put your art on your body; it’s a spiritual thing. I want people to feel comfortable and happy like I do when I get tattoos.”


“I’ve been coming to AS220 Youth since 2014, but I’ve been dancing since I was eight. Dancing has saved my life many times because it’s an emotional outlet. Dancing means freedom to express the pain and the emotions I cannot keep inside. Words are not enough. I’ve formed good friendships here and AS220 Youth has given me the opportunity to showcase my art. I feel challenged by teaching others, but I want more of a challenge. I want to become a professional dancer, make choreographies for big companies, make music videos, and start a music company that explores all dance styles.”

Alex the Blue

“I’ve been coming to AS220 Youth since I was thirteen, and now I’m fifteen. Everyone was really supportive, and it seemed like a judgement free zone. Engineering my own music and collaborating with others is really empowering. I really love learning about music and making it; it’s poetry and therapy Hearing my finished songs means everything to me. I love standing on stage and making people happy. It’s fun talking and connecting with people around you as an MC at Open Mic. I want to help people in the audience and tell them to always be themselves even if they’re going through battles. AS220 Youth is my escape from reality and where I can be myself as an artist. This is where “Alex the Blue” lives. This is a safe haven where I am allowed to be who I want to be. You can be yourself without a care in the world. This place feels like a family.”

Nas Fields
Nas Fields


“I’ve been coming to AS220 Youth since I was thirteen. I record my own music and I focus on R&B and hip hop. It’s been really fun finding my creativity. This space has given me time to know what I want to do. When I sing, I feel heartbroken because of everything I’ve been through at a young age. Life has taught me a lot and I want to share it with the world. I want people to know to keep their heads up no matter what happens to them. I’m working on a mixtape called “Ungrateful” because over time I’ve become more humbled and gained more knowledge. AS220 Youth is like a little family; they support each other. My life advice is not to live life too fast. Live it day by day. Stay focused, stay ambitious, know where you come from, and know who you are. Don’t let your environment change you, let your personality shape your environment.”

Jay Lew

“When I was nine, Anjel introduced me to the dance crew. Now I’m one of the older guys and I enjoy that because I’m heard more, and people respect what I have to say. Last year I was the main character named Jay in FutureWorlds and this gave me a platform to show people who I am and show people I can act in a big platform. Now I can collaborate better because I’ve worked here, and I respect others opinions and I learned how to step up and step back. AS220 Youth is a space where I gained independence and gained knowledge of how my work affects other people. Male musicians are giving women a narrative that they need to bow down and I’ve learned to stay true to myself and my culture. My advice for others is don’t let AS220 Youth be your limit and don’t think that everyone appreciates your art like they do at AS220 Youth.”


“I found AS220 Youth competing in poetry slams. I was on the poetry team for two years and then I came here. Poetry is the only way that I express myself that’s worth it. My poetry has shifted seriously because everything revolves around Jareth now. He’s one of the most important things in my life and everything is for him. I have a little anxiety attack before every performance, but I don’t care about winning or losing. It’s about the poetry not the points. Over the years I got more into visual art. My visual art is Afrocentric and is inspired by creepy art like Tim Burton and anime.”