Urban Promise Academy

Thanks to Studio Incamminati, students at Camden's Urban Promise Academy receive  some very special senior portraits – and a firsthand lesson on how art is created.

The collaboration between the schools - now in its fourth year - offers Studio Incamminati artists the chance to welcome the academy's  seniors into their studios for a one-day painting session. The process, called Alla Prima, requires the artist to paint the portrait in one sitting, resulting in a less finished, but more expressive, style. Besides learning the skills required to model (staying still is the toughest), the experience allows students to develop relationships with the artists who answer  questions about everything from paints to lighting.

All the portraits are displayed at Studio Incamminati and then exhibited at an Urban Promise event. The graduates receive high-quality reproductions of the portraits which are intended to communicate to each student how much they are valued as they enter the next phase of their academic careers. 

The effort was sparked by Studio Incamminati Teaching Fellow Natalie Italiano, who previously painted Urban Promise Academy students. Natalie incorporated those works into her personal project "100 Alla Prima Paintings of American Teenagers," in which she coupled each portrait with personal observations from the young subject.

Founded in 1997, Urban Promise Academy offers Camden youth a unique schooling opportunity with a low teacher to student ratio, a family-style learning environment, an emphasis on community service, and experiential and expeditionary learning. UrbanPromise Academy boasts a 100% graduation rate with 90% of graduates entering college.