Youth Art Team… at home!

We’re collecting resources for you to keep your mind active and your heart strong while you keep your body healthy at home!

We’ll only list free activities that either we have created or have tried out ourselves first. And we’ll try to get fresh activities in front of you each week.

Go to youthartteam.com/athome

River Wall Mural | Artists Celebration

People gathering at the "Our Freedom Story" mural near the RiverLoop Amphitheatre at the Waterloo Center for the Arts

Four hundred people made their way to Waterloo’s RiverLoop Amphitheatre to celebrate the 150 young artists who created the new 3,000+ square foot mural along the Cedar River at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. We appreciate everyone who took the time to come out and experience the “Our Freedom Story” mural! It was beautiful.

“Your community supports you, believes in you, and believes that you are brilliant.”

– Heidi Fuchtman, Youth Art Team Director

People at the celebration asked us to share a few things. We’ll compile them for you here!

Before you read on, will you help us? One of our favorite things about Youth Art Team is getting to share community feedback with the artists. This project took thousands of hours from start to finish. Will you take a few minutes to answer a couple of questions for us?

And now…

What is this project?
This slideshow takes you through the research, learning, and brainstorming process to the moment before mural painting began…

The mural is so cool. Can you help me understand it?
Get a glimpse into the creative minds of the 150 collaborating young artists to understand the ideas behind the art…

Is Youth Art Team a part of the city? The schools? The art centers?

Youth Art Team is an organization that must raise its own funding in order to work with our cities, schools, and art centers to make community-based, public art projects like this possible. And we LOVE to work with them. They are amazing partners who believe in young artists and open doors for them to share their creative voices with our communities.

The “Our Freedom Story” mural project did not receive full funding! But we knew it was too important and had to finish. Now that you’ve seen its impact, we hope that you will help Youth Art Team reach its funding needs to continue this momentum into the next project. Our website makes it easy to make a one-time donation or set up monthly contributions. Your entire donation is tax-deductible. Help us make sure that the Youth Art Team moves into its next project with courage and strength!

The River Wall Mural is one of three Mural Year projects that the Youth Art Team has accomplished in 2018-2019. The Youth Art Team Mural Year project is supported, in part, by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural A airs, the National Endowment for the Arts. A Teen Trust grant, awarded to Friends of the Art Center, provided funds that assisted with River Wall Mural paint costs.

The Guernsey Charitable Foundation and R. J. McElroy Trust provided operating support that helped make this project and other Youth Art Team initiatives possible in 2019.

Will you help me keep up with “Our Freedom Story” media coverage?
Yes! We posted links below and we’ll post new links as additional pieces are published.

Ahmad Madlock (grade 9), Imagination Coalition and Youth Art Team youth board member being interviewed by KCRG before the celebration. (The “Our Town” series airs in mid-June! We’ll post a link here when it does.)

Can you share more about the song?
Yes! We posted a link to the lyrics and the song itself below.

Lowell artists (grade 3) recording in The Studio!
Listen! Recorded at The Studio with Lyrikal TMG.

Read the lyrics written by Lowell & Kingsley third graders during music class with Dr. Meacham (Hip Hop Literacy) and music teachers Ms. Mennenga (Lowell) and Mr. Babneau (Kingsley).

The live performance recorded by Youth Art Team Lead Team artist! Isaac and Oliver Yoder joined us from the Northern Iowa Youth Orchestra under the direction of John Chiles. Choreography learned in gym class with Mandy Masmar (University of Northern Iowa, Physical Education dance program) and gym teachers Mr. Guetzlaff (Lowell) and Ms. Velthoff (Kingsley).

This project was huge! Impossible to capture it all here. If there’s something else you’d like to know or see, let us know.

It’s our largest mural yet… and you’re invited!

Nearly 200 people ages 7-70+ spent more than 2000 hours preparing to paint this new mural along the Cedar River at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.

Measuring 3,000 square feet, the Youth Art Team’s largest public mural to date commemorates Waterloo’s civil rights history.

We’re having a party… and you’re invited!

River Wall Mural | Artists Celebration
Tue. June 4 @ 4:30-6:00 p.m.

RiverLoop Amphitheatre
FREE! Open to the public & kid friendly.
Event co-hosted by the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
More details on Facebook.

Wait, 2000 hours?! 

YES.
BEFORE
we started painting.

Here’s how we invested our time:

1 – The Lead Team went to St. Louis in January.

Photo © 2019 Janea

“I learned more about St. Louis’s history which helped me understand our home’s history better.”

– Artist, seventh grade

This group of artists takes on extra responsibilities, tackles project tasks first, and provides leadership to all teams that participate in Youth Art Team projects. They explored St. Louis together for three days. Their experiences prepared them to take on the enormous new river wall mural project. See photos from our trip in our Facebook album.

2 – Teams of young artists conducted interviews.

Dr. Gwendolyn Simpson Johnson being interviewed by the Lead Team.

“I learned that discussions about race matter as much now as ever. Young students of color need a place for their stories to be heard. And young white students need safe spaces to hear about other people’s experience in our community. I was reminded of this as I watched students’ faces and listened to their questions as they interviewed me.”

– Alice Shirey, interviewee

The Imagination Coalition (formerly PROJECT 8) artists conducted preliminary interviews with local people who were growing up or living in Waterloo during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They helped summarize each person’s story so that younger artists could read about the person they would interview, prepare their questions ahead of time, and hold a conversation in person during a large group interview.

And yes, we are painting an amazing mural… but these interviews were the most important, honest, and beautiful part of the entire mural project experience.

3 – Then 150 artists asked themselves, “How do we tell this story with our art?”

Youth Art Team artists answering these questions through their art.

“I hope that everybody feels important in some way. That either they are great or someone they are related to helped participate in this, and they have some of that courage and determination in them, too. I want people all over the world to see this mural and know the history of Waterloo and that it is important.

– Artist, third grade

The young artists were encouraged to put themselves in the situations of the person they interviewed and the stories they told so the artists could try to imagine: What words represent how the person would have felt? What words represent what they would have had to summon up inside of themselves in order to act and try to create a better community for us?

Then they tried to figure out what colors could represent those words. How could they draw lines and shapes with those colors to show this time in Waterloo’s history in a way that people could relate to?

The full team on this Youth Art Team project was comprised of three groups: Youth Art Team artists ages 6-15 (director Heidi Fuchtman), Lowell Elementary third grade artists (teacher Amelia Smith), and Kingsley Elementary third grade artists (teacher Jennifer Hirschman).

The final design concept:

It’s impossible to share the full story of what happened during those 2000+ hours. This video – showing how their artwork came together – gives a pretty good feel.

You can be a part of all this!

Three ways to support:

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Anonymous donors

“We need to assure that Youth Art Team survives, thrives, and grows to reach more students. That can only happen with financial support.”

These two discovered the Youth Art Team through a chance meeting that developed into volunteer, financial, and soul-felt support. Read more…

You know, donors like these helped make all of this happen. Thank you! If you donated to the Youth Art Team this year, your financial contribution brought healing and beauty to our community through this project.

There’s still so much to do!

Youth Art Team raises its own funding so we can work with our cities, schools, and local art centers to make these community-based, public art projects possible. We need local donors like you to keep young artists learning, connecting, and creating.

And don’t miss this party!

River Wall Mural | Artists Celebration
Tue. June 4 @ 4:30-6:00 p.m.

RiverLoop Amphitheatre
FREE! Open to the public & kid friendly.
Event co-hosted by the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
More details on Facebook.

#loveispower #goyouthartteam

The River Wall Mural is one of three Mural Year projects that the Youth Art Team has accomplished over the past year. The Youth Art Team Mural Year project is supported, in part, by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts. A Teen Trust grant, awarded to Friends of the Art Center, provided funds for River Wall Mural paint.