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AIGA Link Program: Alumni Helping Seattle Teens

AIGA Link Program: Alumni Helping Seattle Teens

: "Pimp my Shoes" with Matt Lu. Photo by courtesy of AIGA Link Program.

AIGA Link Program: Alumni Helping Seattle Teens

: SLR Photography with Mel Curtis. Photo by courtesy of AIGA Link Program.

AIGA Link Program: Alumni Helping Seattle Teens

: Superhero Life Drawing. Photo by courtesy of AIGA Link Program.

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Cornish reaches out to Seattle youth in many ways, but one especially close partnership is with the AIGA Link Program, a visual art enrichment program for high school students.

This group, under the umbrella of AIGA (the professional organization for design), brings students to Cornish’s South Lake Union campus every third Saturday of the month to learn from guest artists, make challenging projects, and prepare stronger portfolios.

The once-a-month workshops began In 1994, when Cornish attendee and graphic designer Paula Onodera Wong and her friend and fellow artist Glenn Mitsui decided to organize this free activity at Franklin high school. They created the group in response to Wong’s concern about the violent atmosphere and insufficient arts funding her daughters experienced as students. The lessons of the guest artists and workshop leaders were designed to “help young people develop a positive sense of self and to be shown [...] that they have all the talent and ability they need to make it in the world”, says Program Director Laura (Gildersleeve) Marks, who is coincidentally also a Cornish alum.

18 years later, “The program [...] has worked with more than eight local schools, 500 students, awarded more than 90 scholarships and more than $250,000”, Marks tells us. “It’s been a model and inspiration for other AIGA programs across the country”. Link’s growth and continuance beyond the original all-volunteer group has largely been made possible by a generous grant from the Coyne family foundation. Its funders, Jean Coyne (who now heads the foundation with her son Patrick Coyne) and her late husband Richard Coyne, both attended Cornish as well.

Cornish is proud to host the AIGA Link Program, and to recognize the brilliant work of our alumni in its beginning, sustenance, and future.


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