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?! 

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.