Jason Talbot’s undying passion for utilizing the talents of inner-city youths and his ability to see art in everything around him, both helped in his development of Artists For Humanity. As one of the cofounders and current special projects director of the organization, Talbot works daily to bring art into the lives of underprivileged high school students.
Artists For Humanity is an organization that provides under-resourced youths with employment and experience in entrepreneurial work, as well as connecting them with mentors in art related fields.
“Their eyes are opened up,” Talbot said in regards to the organization. “Their horizons are broadened, and they’re able to really see themselves in a really productive light.”
He met Susan Rodgerson when he was in junior high school and the two were brought together to produce a large scale painting. This painting was sold to a corporation for lobby art and the funds were used to make the next big painting. It was Rodgerson’s way of bringing arts enrichment and experiences to Boston public schools and inner-city youth. This was the start of Artists For Humanity’s development.
Growing up in Roxbury in a tough neighborhood himself, Talbot said there were very few safe spaces available to him. He felt like the media was constantly trying to tell him that he would have a short life and didn’t have much potential. When he was developing Artists For Humanity, his primary goal was to prove to every child who felt the same that they were capable of making a difference.
“It was at Artists for Humanity, spending time in the arts community, that I really found that with practice and discipline and hard work, I could really change my trajectory, that I could make a beautiful future for myself, and in doing so, it just became evident that all young people should have that opportunity,” Talbot said.
Though Talbot is interested in all forms of art, his favorites are spray paint, graffiti and street art. He remembers admiring the pops of color and murals in graffiti on his bus rides home from school and those memories continue to inspire him. He is also fascinated with origami. He finds it incredible that he can still make art even if he has nothing but a piece of paper. Regardless of what art form it is, Talbot greatly stresses the importance of expressing yourself through art every day and thinks of all art as a fun puzzle to solve.
“Every day I spend some time with a pencil trying to get my ideas out on paper and get better at that,” Talbot said. “We all have great ideas, but they come and they go, they’re fleeting, but when you can actually document your ideas and write them down on paper, whether its in the form of a sketch or drawing or plan, then it’s transformative.”
Aside from art, he also has a deep connection with hip hop, so much that he regards it as the soundtrack of his life. When everyone at Artists For Humanity was working on their respective projects, he remembers Rodgerson encouraging them all to listen to music. She would always appreciate and respect their music taste, even if it wasn’t her favorite; this was something that he felt drew them all closer together.
Family is also a huge part of Talbot’s life, in the technical and non-traditional sense.
“Sticking together through thick and thin is what family is all about,” Talbot said.
Though he cares deeply for his wife, his newborn, 11-month-old daughter, Alaina, and his four-year-old son, Jason, he feels the same love for the people he works with. According to Talbot, Alaina gives “the best little baby hugs” and he loves how she laughs and smiles when she sees him.
“She’s everything to me,” Talbot said.
In a different sense, he considers his co-workers family as well.
“I think that there’s a point where if you’ve known somebody for the majority of your life, then they’re kind of family,” Talbot said.
Artists for Humanity has a very “family vibe” and he thinks that’s very much in part due to the large amount of mentorship that’s involved.
Ultimately, Talbot’s life revolves around bettering the lives of underprivileged teens through art. He aims to better their lives, as well as the businesses who they produce art for, and in turn, unite the community.
“We’ve really worked to make sure that the young people of Boston are seen as a resource, given respect and responsibility, and are able to contribute to the city as a whole,” Talbot said.