Arvie Smith: Project Hope, 2009-2010. Portland, Oregon: Regional Arts & Culture Council, 2010.
In this residency located at the Multnomah County Juvenile Justice Center, artist Arvie Smith worked with youth in pre-trial detention under Measure 11-a ballot measure that sets mandatory minimum sentencing for certain crimes-teaching weekly classes on drawing and painting fundamentals along with the history and purpose of murals. Youth who regularly attended his class received academic credit in art. Engaging the youth in conversation during these sessions helped Smith develop the subject matter for five large scale paintings using an underlying theme of hope. The various images for each panel were derived from their interests, dreams, and desires. He ultimately worked with over 100 youth in creating the paintings.
“In my work with Measure 11 youth I have a window into a new generation of kids who didn’t pick the lucky straw. Rather they have grown up surrounded by violence; violence from the police, the schools, the neighborhoods they had no choice but to live in… In our work together, we use art as a way for them to create a new internal world, one that defies stereotypes, categories, judgment, and is a different response than what they have known…
Art is a tool and a medium of expression, a way to express feelings and aspirations. It doesn’t take much infrastructure… but it does take a guide, someone who is invested, someone who cares and knows the language of art and can inspire thoughts of options and possibilities and another life. It also requires a system that believes these kids are worth saving and that this is the only just thing to do. I believe this project represents a sincere effort to make a difference.”
Courtesy of Regional Arts & Culture Council Intersections/ Artist Residencies Program. © the Artist.
Artist Credit: Arvie Smith
Exhibition: Regional Arts & Culture Council Intersections/ Artist Residencies Program; Arvie Smith: Project Hope, 2009-2010