Opening Speaker: The Powerful Impact of the Arts
Friday, November 6, 2020 at 9:45 am
With Aitina Fareed-Cooke
Join us for CPX2020’s official opening presentation featuring award-winning, inspirational Buffalo-based artist Aitina Fareed-Cooke as she shares how the arts have shaped who she is and how she continues to use the arts for meaningful community change.
Aitina Fareed-Cooke was told at a young age that she would be a “failure to thrive” as a result of her biological mother’s addiction to drugs. At 14 months old her and her 2 siblings were placed into foster care and diagnosed as “Emotionally Handicapped”. When Aitina was three years old her and her sibling lost their mother due to a drug overdose. Though the odds were against her, she managed to thrive due to her adoptive mother’s efforts in keeping her involved in extracurricular activities, community arts programs which introduced her to photography, film, and creative writing. Aitina continues utilizing her camera or “my weapon of mass creativity” and her love of writing music and poetry as a type of “Art Activism” igniting thought and change within her community.
Aitina received her Associates degree in Arts & Humanities at Erie Community College (2009), Bachelor Arts degree in English (2012) and Masters in Science & Education with a focus in Educational Technology (2016) at Buffalo State. Aitina has worked within various non-profit organizations for over 15 years throughout the city of Buffalo NY where she has developed, managed and implemented countless high-quality creative arts programs. Her unique and innovative ideas have assisted countless youth and young adults in fostering opportunities for growth in creative thinking and problem solving, self esteem, self expression, social awareness, and peer collaboration.
Aitina has worked with organizations such as Say Yes to Education serving as a Community Schools Navigator; Young Audiences of WNY serving as the ArtWorks Director & Education Coordinator, Community Action Organization serving as a Youth Services Site Coordinator; CEPA Gallery continuously serving as a Photography Teaching Artist and Board Member, just to name a few. Throughout her tenure at each organization she was able to contribute to the increase in retention rates of youth and parent involvement in programming and activities, the development and increase in community engagement and partnerships, and securing grant funding for the successful longevity of such programs within such organizations.
The skills that Aitina has developed over time has led her to developing Get Fokus’d Productions (GFP). GFP is a creative media arts company dedicated to capturing project-based stories, designing curriculums to teach youth soft skills through the implementation of photography, film, and creative writing programs, and giving back to the next generation of creatives through a movement called Young & Fokus’d . Aitina’s original work has been exhibited at CEPA Gallery , Jamestown Community College, Darwin Martin House, Crzurles-Nelson Gallery at SUNY Buffalo State, Main Street Art Gallery, Blue Plate Studio, and PineAppleCo.
Aitina is now an award-winning photographer, teaching artist, creative director, and lyricist earning recognition through 43North ’s Ignite Buffalo People’s Choice Award, CEPA Gallery Exhibition Award, SUNY Buffalo State Young Alumnus Achievement Award, Canisius College Trailblazer Award, the National Society of Leadership & Success Excellence in Teaching Award, Kingdom Choice Up Next and Breakthrough Artist Award, BULYPNY Entrepreneurship Award, Mayors Citizens Participation Academy Award, and more. Aitina has also been featured in Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine, Upstart New York, Challenger News, Buffalo News, Buffalo State Alumni Magazine, National Young Audiences Emerging Leaders, DJ Booth , Rapzilla, Trackstarz and much more.