Level Up Studios is a creative arts studio that focuses on enriching the educational and artistic experiences of African American youths in Pittsburgh, with programming in hip hop dance, martial arts, creative writing, studio production, and visual arts. Level Up Studios is a creative playground for underserved youth, local artists and musicians, and cultural enthusiasts, with the goal of bringing more dimensions to the learning of children and teens growing up in difficult environments. According to Level Up, the organization was "created out of a passion for community reinvestment. We aim to make art, music, and movement accessible in life, not just the classroom."
As a participatory creative space, Level Up Studios has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. In addition to Level Up's #ArtIsEssential Fundraiser, which sought to support artists and the studio through COVID-19, community members have begun to fundraise with "Help Save Level Up" on GoFundMe.
Why did you get into this work? Where do you draw your inspiration?
"I've submerged myself in, and became fascinated with, street art stencil work." Everett is especially inspired by SkechArt (@Skechart88), and wants to push past and advance the style of street art that he loves.
"I began with layering and laser cutting, keeping the essence of street arts intact. I don't think there's really a name for my style, so I just say layered street art. There's always going to be a sense of evolving in my art." Everett's dream is to take his style to a different scale by creating large murals.
What have been your biggest hurdles artistically during the pandemic?
"The biggest hurdle for me, really, is access to certain art supplies and having to deal with online ordering. I like to see and feel a product that I will be using. Then there's the waiting time to get your order to make some art, when I'm more of a 'when the time is right,' kind of spontaneous-planned-out artist if that makes any sense."
Aside from waiting for supplies, staying quarantined hasn't taken too hard a toll on Everett, except for the separation from fellow artists.
"Since I own a studio, [being quarantined and] creating new pieces hasn't really affected me, 'cause I have more time to practice. I do miss my studio being filled with dancers and other artists, all drawing energy from one another."