Printers Row art therapist inspired by his students

By Dan Patton | Staff Writer

Printers Row resident Larry Crost considers himself one of the luckiest educators in the city. For more than twenty years, the registered art therapist has helped students within the Chicago Public Schools learn about creativity while making their own masterpieces through a hands-on, customized studio program called Art Colony.

“We’ve got a lot of young talent in Chicago!” he exclaims. “It never ceases to amaze me.”

Working in grade school and high school campuses throughout the city, Crost teaches kids that basic household items can be decorated, reconfigured and retrofitted into stylistic accessories of inspirational beauty. Plastic spoons, for example, can be done up with colorful faces to make catchy kitchen wall hangings. Worn-out old furniture can be deconstructed into countless fabric, metal and wood displays.

Crost is not only an enthusiastic supporter of the process — which he describes as an “innovative methodology applied to art” — but he also wrote the book on it. Artscope, published in 1978, goes beyond the typical “here’s how” instructions found in most art guides and gets right down to technique and application.

CROST002It’s not just kids who can benefit from his approach. Art Colony was designed to be a multigenerational method, and Crost has employed it to persuade professional seminar attendees “to do things they’re not accustomed to.” He has also showed his own work in New York City’s New Century Art Gallery and supplied it as reference material for Smithsonian Associate Magazine.

On his next project, Crost hopes to take the lesson a step further and show young artists how to make money from their creativity, ideally with the help of Chicago’s business world. Although he has yet to procure corporate sponsorship, he has no trouble coming up with ideas. “We should allow kids to learn profit sharing,” he says.

“They could take designs and make tablecloths or t-shirts and sell them. They could make money from their art.”

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