youth art engagement project 2021
The Youth Art Engagement Project (YAEP) is a justice art and education program designed to work with students in grade 8-12 to discuss and raise awareness on issues relating to child/youth sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The project was piloted in 2011 and has seen impressive growth since its inception. This year, we offered our program over a 10-week period!
what is social justice art?
Social justice art is art with a message. The idea behind this art form is to make the audience become more aware of an issue and, ideally, react in a way that motivates them to either learn more or become mobilized in a positive effort towards the message behind the art. It is with high hopes that the Youth Art Engagement Project will inspire participants in the program to use art as a creative outlet to share their message on the issue of sexual exploitation while fostering youth leadership and youth voices.
As a team, we collaborated and created a piece that symbolizes the need for social justice while tying that into sexual exploitation. As youth are spending more time online, we have seen a rise in online sexual exploitation. This is a prominent issue amongst all youth. We created a digital piece to represent our digital year while acknowledging prominent issues within society that the youth addressed with us.
Workshop presenters and Youth Art participants meet once a week for a 2-hour workshop session. The first hour of each session is dedicated to education and interactive learning. It is an opportunity for students to critically engage in discussion on the issue of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
The second hour is dedicated to social justice art experimentation and creation. Workshop presenters provide ongoing mentorship and guidance to participants in completing their art project.
art gallery and showcase
Each year, we host a youth art gallery celebration where community, family and peers come together to celebrate the youth's artworks. Each artist has included an artist statement with their artwork below.
My idea was inspired by the lost children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Making this art piece was means that those children wouldn’t be forgotten. Canada’s traffic lost. My grandma was a survivor, taken as a child in Cold Lake, Alberta. She wanted to give me a good childhood when I spent time with her and I didn’t know why she treated me in some ways till I do now. I was her baby and she never could have wanted me the way they treated her. So I made this piece in honor of the children.
My piece resembles someone in the middle of being exploited. The colors could be what the figures see, how they are feeling, or their personalities depending on how it’s viewed. With the typical combination of blue signaling “good” and red being “bad”. The blue and red are the same brightness and size, so one doesn’t jump out more. The figures are the same size and androgynous, so it could be anyone. The exploiter is in a neutral pose and casually holding the invisible string to not be obvious, the exploited is reaching towards something they see in a relaxed pose not able to feel the string or trap.
For the head, the idea was that a victim of abuse or trafficking has the feelings of shame and sadness, an overtaking represented by the black taking over the color. This represents who the person is. They are unhappy with different feelings and emotions, with friends and family, but it’s being taken away by the overwhelming feeling of guilt, shame, sadness and many others, turning them into almost a different person.
For the Splatter, I was thinking that the white canvas represents how one may feel as a victim, while the red shows them trying to talk about their feelings, or reach for help. Also showing others pieces of themselves, but ultimately no one is listening. Everything seems empty and void represented by the white.
We are so thankful to the following supporters who gave donations to ensure the success of our 2021 Youth Art Engagement Project. Special thanks goes to:
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Civil Forfeiture
The Province of British Columbia, BC Gaming
CKNW Kids' Fund
The Edith Lando Charitable Foundation