In September 2021, a formerly incarcerated young man, Jaiquan Fayson, needed 20 hours of teaching observance to complete his college degree at the School of Visual Arts. Seeds of the League gave him the opportunity to not only observe but participate in the League’s atelier-style teaching. Below is his story.

As my mother has recounted to me several times about my earliest years of life, she took me to the circus to see a unicorn when I was maybe 2 or 3 years old and later that evening I had done a drawing of that unicorn which she felt was at least worth sharing with friends and family. I don’t remember that particular event, but I do feel a great sense of pride and identity about the thought of it.

Growing up in Brooklyn during the 1980s, I was fortunate enough to experience a wealth of popular and commerce-driven cartoons that have seen a revival in the form of blockbuster movies over the past few years.

Many of my Saturday mornings were spent eating bowls of no-frills cereal and milk and watching Thundercats, Transformers and/or G.I. Joe.

My mother would watch cartoons with us back then and well into her old age as a grandmother, she still watches and discusses cartoons and comic books with my siblings and I.

For a time in my life, for well over a decade, I would only draw whenever I found myself back in prison. I felt disillusioned about any hope of being a successful artist, but art had now become a form of therapy to help me maintain my sanity in prison. Overtime I worked hard to overcome those circumstances, obtaining my GED while in prison and eventually completing my BFA in Illustration at The School of Visual Arts.

Now, I am not only hoping to continue learning as an artist but also to begin learning how to teach, share and influence others who may have an opportunity to maintain and realize their dream of being an artist without having to experience the trauma of crime and or prison.

November 2021
I’m working around the corner from a family shelter that I was in at 16 years old, so I have an opportunity to be with that population. So far, they want to keep me until February, and they say that I’m doing a good job. Either way, I’m invested and doing my best to help these kids while I can.

Being at the Art Students League even for that short amount of time was so important to me, so thank you for giving me that opportunity.

School of Visual Arts 2021
Seeds of the League Scholarship 2021

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