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Museum Making Connections: ArtWorks! is a national award-winning program developed in 2000, to combat youth violence and provide positive alternatives to teens. The program provides project-based learning, led by professional artists. ArtWorks! serves approximately 15 under-served youths at a time; keeping this number low allows for significant development of relationships between the artists and the participants.

For the first several years of the program, the teens created public sculptures which are now located throughout the community and on the grounds of HMA. One of the program’s most impactful projects was Building Blocks, a 28′ aluminum sculpture erected at the foot of the Robert C. Byrd Bridge at 6th Street. Building Blocks was honored with a National Award of Merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment. The award was given jointly to HMA, the Huntington Housing Authority and the City of Huntington. Winning a national award was truly a life-altering experience for the teens involved, and was a powerful lesson that they could, with cooperation and hard work, give a valuable gift to their community.

ArtWorks! has evolved over the years in response to the composition and needs of the groups of teens it serves. In early programs the teens worked with one artist to create a single project. In other years the program participants worked with several different artists during the eight Saturdays of the program. Regardless of the format or the project, the teens are provided with opportunities for mentoring as well as exposure to a wide variety of materials and processes. Through project-based learning, ArtWorks! participants gain practice in critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, and creativity and innovation.