SUCCESS How do you see it? 

That is what we asked the visitors at Shepherd's Clinic, the next door neighbors to the Youth Dreamers' Dream House.  We set up a wall display introducing ourselves and a table for visitors to respond.  These visual responses were included in a final piece of artwork that we ultimately gifted to the clinic.  The final collaborative piece is made of mixed media.  SUCCESS is created with mosaic letters.  We drew each others profiles and used different materials to form the outlines.  PENNIES represent financial success, PENCIL ERASERS represent education, ROCKS represent strength throughout all circumstances, and FABRIC (peace sign design) represents relationships being the fabric of our lives.  The drawings within the profiles are the contribution from Shepherd's Clinic which represent people, nature, faith and health.

"Success is getting control of my diabetes" - unknown (contribution from Shepherd's Clinic)

We also thought about our personal answers to that question and what it meant to us amidst the educational climate revolving around standardized testing.  We formed an art group  named "Kreative Kool-Aid" and met once a week.

Kreative Kool-Aid

December 12, 2012

"This body of work is an expansion of the skills we have learned in our studio art class with Ms. Danielle.   We are broadening our horizons and continuing to step outside the box by using new tools and art techniques.  We are making art about what success means to each of us as individual artists by considering our past, present and future within our society. There is more than one way to measure success.  Creating art for the community has been a task for the Youth dreamers for years to give back to the place we love so dearly. The community is also part of this show by participating at our Shepherd’s Clinic and our Youth Dreamers Youth Development Workshop.  Shepherd’s Clinic has been a wonderful supporter and neighbor to the Youth Dreamers for 11 years!  We are thankful to have this beautiful space to share are artistic visions."  

A day at the Youth Dreamers...

The spirit of the Youth Dreamers was in full force on December 14th, 2012. We had a house full of a diverse group of teenagers learning, working together, and creating joy. This is what our YD Squared Youth Dreamers Youth Development Workshops looks like once a month. These workshops are free and open to all middle and high school students in Baltimore City.  We average 15 students monthly.  During the workshop youth are first provided lunch and participate in youth-led ice-breakers to get to know one another and the Youth Dreamers.  Then they participate in youth-led leadership training, create community art, and earn service hours.  

Every winter and summer the Youth Dreamers create gifts for each of the 29 homes on their block.  This winter we made duct tape Christmas trees. To start, the youth learned all about the relationship of the Youth Dreamers with their community through a youth-led interactive history and game. They learned how important it was for the Youth Dreamers to build and maintain relationships with their neighbors in order to gain their trust, support and show them a positive image of youth.  By understanding the history of the Youth Dreamers in their neighborhood, the youth were able to see that their creativity and voice are going to play an impactful role in the community and world around them.

As the facilitator, I demonstrated the step-by-step instructions with the youth by showing them what all of the different steps for creating the tree look like. Then they were off! They chose fabulous printed duct tape like Hello Kitty, plaid patterns and bright colors. The students were all a little bit shy at first, but within five minutes there was a friendly, fun and creative art buzz in the air. This was not an easy craft, but because of the challenges that it held the students came up with wonderful adaptations to the original tree design. It was so fun to see them cutting and folding the tape differently so that it would work in a new way and have a different unique design. All of the trees had so much character! Especially Jeremy's. 

Jeremy was very engaged in the process.  I was so surprised and inspired by his fearlessness to keep making and not worry about perfection. He was free to do his best and be very proud of his work. He was even so into the project that he finished his first tree and made a second one with just as much spirit. All of the trees were given the neighbors as we went down the street with Santa hats singing Christmas carols. Each and every tree was special and valued. Each youth was important and made a difference that day, and Jeremy's voice was the loudest one you would have heard caroling down the street.

Artscape 2012

Artscape is America's largest free arts festival held in Baltimore, MD annually.  The Youth Dreamers informed and taught the public about their organization and how to make a personalized bumper sticker to reflect identity.  Despite the pouring down rain we had a great turnout out at our booth.  Participants were also asked if they would like to contribute to the Youth Dreamer's book, which we started writing this Summer, by having their picture taken holding their bumper sticker.