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Kenneth Holloway never saw himself as an artist. But then his teacher, Gloria Byers, challenged him to create a piece of artwork using corrugated cardboard, a selfie, pastel chalk and other materials.
The result: A colorful self-portrait using mixed media that was so good, it was selected to be on display during the Detroit Public School Community District Student Exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
"It feels good to let people see my work, to see that it means something," said Holloway, 17, a senior at Osborn College Preparatory Academy.
His artwork is one of hundreds of pieces on exhibit beginning Saturday at the DIA, an annual display that gives students a unique opportunity to showcase their talent.
It's the 80th such exhibition at the museum, and is the longest-running partnership the DIA has with an educational organization. The Detroit Public Schools Foundation and the Ruth T.T. Cattell Education Endowment Fund funded the exhibition.
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The paintings, drawings and sculptures on display last week in the Worcester Trial Court lobby reflected a wide range of artistic abilities, but the young artists who created them all had one thing in common.
Each has had some involvement with the Worcester County Juvenile Court and each was referred by a judge or probation officer to Arts Alternative, a collaborative effort of the juvenile court and the Worcester Art Museum.
The idea behind the program, now in its fifth year, is to offer troubled youths, from truants and runaways to those deemed delinquent by reason of criminal activity, an introduction to art as a means of positive development and as an option to violence, substance abuse and other negative behavior, according to Fiona Bycroft-Ryder, a juvenile court probation officer.
Participants, ranging in age from 9 to 18, meet once a month at the Worcester Art Museum, where volunteer docent Ginny B. Powell-Brasier takes them on a guided tour and talks with them about specific works of art that are part of the museum’s collection. Then they spend about 90 minutes in a studio with an art instructor doing hands-on activities.
The works of art that result are eventually displayed in a community setting, like the art museum or the courthouse. Most of the participants, many of whom come from low-income or unstable environments, had never been to the art museum before becoming involved in the program, according to Ms. Bycroft-Ryder.
“But what’s nice is we find some young people keep coming to the program even when they’re no longer on probation. Sometimes they’ll bring a friend of a family member,” she said.
The museum has offered scholarships in the past to participants who “have shown artistic talent and want to get more out of it,” Ms. Bycroft-Ryder said.
An exhibit of the participants’ creative efforts was on display last Thursday in the first-floor lobby of the Worcester Trial Court at 225 Main St. Some of the artwork is expected to remain there through the end of this week. The works included paintings, pastels, pencil drawings, clay sculptures, collages and murals.
About 40 people attended the April 20 reception.
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Less than a year since being founded by 28-year-old law student and artist Amanda King, Shooting Without Bullets has developed a dedicated core of teens telling their stories through art. Their stories will be showcased in Under Exposed, a documentary film.
King began Shooting Without Bullets as a response to the tumultuous local socio-political climate kickstarted by the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014. After she was named to the ensuing Cleveland Community Police Commission and serving on it for a year, King realized that it still fell short in communicating with portions of the population it was created to serve.
“The way it was structured – very meeting-oriented, very recommendation-oriented – wasn’t conducive to interactions with teenagers in particular,” she says.
This notion of invisibility and disconnection is echoed by the young people involved in the program.
“Some people acknowledge us, but for others it’s in one ear and out the other,” 16-year-old photographer Leilani Williams, a student at John Hay’s Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, comments. “Especially as black youth, we get pushed off so easily.”
“People shake us off like we’re not there or only acknowledge us for the bad things,” reiterates 20-year-old Charles Mosley, also a student at CSAD.
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Would you like to host one of our Artivism workshops at your school or non-profit? We would love to hear from you! Contact us!
Since 2011, Project Attica has brought Artivism – a free, dynamic, visual art, interactive workshop to students in New York City. Held in middle schools, high schools and community organizations in the city, Artivism provides students with a space to create works of art by expressing their views about social justice issues on wearable canvases.