In 2008 organizations concerned about youth in Orange — including HANDS, StudioWorks, Valley Arts, and the Orange Board of Education — brought together a group of high school students with artists and an architect to transform a former ironworkers shop into a youth art center called Ironworks Studio. WIth support and encouragement a group of teens came up with program to go with the building: ORNG Ink (OutReaching to the Next Generation), a youth-led and user-driven art and design studio where high school students could gain arts and entrepreneurial skills leading to employment opportunities.
But the work wouldn’t stop there. When the first generation of participants graduated high school it became clear to the program facilitators that there was just as much need for a safe and nurturing creative space for young, maturing adults eager to explore their relationship to the arts in the real world. ORNG Ink began to offer free and low cost studio and exhibition space to young adult (emerging) artists in the community in exchange for volunteer hours dedicated to youth mentorship and space maintenance. This trust in the young leaders from within our community has proved to be a valuable resource to the growing vibrancy of the Valley Arts District and surrounding region. ORNG Ink is at the center of a growing underground arts movement in Essex County, NJ, We remain dedicated to serving both our local youth and emerging adult talent within our community and believe that fostering synergy between these two groups across generational and cultural divides is key to a healthy and productive creative neighborhood.