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“Day2Day is a journey through the ‘day to day’ life experience of Milwaukee youth.” On January 28th, 2017, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Youth Arts Initiative presented a youth created and curated art installation at Jazale’s Art Studio, on Milwaukee’s East side. For months, with the guidance of Youth Arts Initiative instructors, Vedale Hill and James Gavins, club members (ages 8-15 years old) from Davis, Fitzsimmons and Gaenslen Boys & Girls Club sites, cultivated content in a multitude of medias, that immerses the audience in the perspective of the youth, their “Day2Day” concerns, opinions on community and most importantly their perspective of self. The experience starts the moment you enter the studio. Youth collages hanging on the wall, noise, sound distractions...familiar, like sirens, school bells, and laughter. A video projection streams with an intro, so thoughtful and imagery so impactful, you can’t help but to reflect. It states: You don’t understand it And I don’t either Wish I could be house me everywhere I go But I can’t I gotta prove that I can prove stuff It’s hard to see a future in the future cuz theres debt collectors everywhere and I’m like.. cuz Im not liked they don’t know why and i don’t know why either but I still gotta do this math and they don’t know it and I don’t know it either Hard to focus when they across the room posting bout me on Facebook and its public so the whole world could see that that can ruin my whole world. teacher didn’t have her coffee and nearly quit and I didn’t have breakfast and almost got expelled sometime a fist flies like time like I was suppose to read like this by now or count like this by now or know how my brain works like this by now this is my day2day.

CW: “How did this concept come up?” VH: “We wanted to create an atmosphere with sounds, interviews and visual art. So the whole idea was that they were able to express their day to day events through multiple means, through creating video, interviews, having group discussions and open conversations on the subject.” The subject of Day2Day life was then divided into the four S’s: -School -Safety -Sugars -Social These would be the stops in the gallery “rotunda”, where we would receive a visual and audio depiction of how these themes classify into each youth’s perspective lifestyle. VH: “We were able to dive into detail and further the discussion (with the four S’s). Things that came up were outdated textbooks, young ladies having to walk home alone after school, to bullets flying, to them loving Takis, Flamin’ Hots, and Brisk Juices. They had all the content you would ever need. They are well aware of the subjects. They just didn’t know how to express it.” Those who were more visually inclined worked on paintings and collages, where the individuals with leadership qualities were running interviews and creating questions to ask. The youth were fully involved with the entirety of the process, taking their own talents into consideration. Laid out on the perimeter of the room, in a sequential manner, each piece displayed one of the four S’s. Like a painting of a student in a classroom with an old textbook protruding from the canvas, with headphones playing the commentary from the students perspective of school. Or take the painting with flying Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, complemented by a large Brisk bottle, Zebra cake and real box of Skittles with audio commentary on access to healthy foods, sugar intake and daily diet. Each stop in the room made a statement; a realization of truth from a voice that is not often given the opportunity to speak for itself. JG: “It was a lot of peer to peer education. So that’s where the whole idea came from to share their experience from their perspective not only with the outsider, but with each other. Often they are told how things are going for them. Their story is usually told by someone else and they are just supposed to receive it. We flipped it; allowing them to share their thoughts with us.”



The exhibit was well received. All the contributing artist, their parents and members of the community filled the space. Even though we, as the audience, find the youth perspective to be refreshing, it is their feedback and growth from the experience that makes events and programs like these worth exploring. JG: “They never really have seen people follow through. This is one of the biggest projects they have completed.” VH: “Many of these students have never been praised for their work or have shown in a gallery setting and are very talented.” JG: “They loved the process just as much as the reward. The kids seeing everything combine into one was a big deal. They recorded the sound, they dragged chairs, wrote on chalk boards. To see it all come together after putting in the work without knowing what the outcome would be was fulfilling for them.” The artist also learned that with hard work comes great reward. The event not only included a silent auction where the visual art was sold and all funds were given back to the artist, but there were also free raffle prizes to show parent appreciation and thank students for their hard work and contribution.

VH: “Some of the students sold their pieces which was nice. Often they don’t get to work with people outside of their community, so it was very cool to overhear their conversations about their process (at different sites). Today in the artist VIP section, I heard them discussing art and entrepreneurship and ways that they could start their own businesses together. These are conversations that people would pay to have happen.” Common ground, common goal. We hope this event cultivates a more realistic understanding on what it is like to be a youth in our community, so that we create better practices and approaches to make change. VH: “The things that most organizations, and services for young people try to accomplish, happen naturally through art. Especially when it’s all inclusive and all encompassing.” Once again, art proves to be a powerful means of communication. #SupportTheArts For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Youth Arts Initiative, visit: www.boysgirlsclubs.org Love & All Things Urban, /CW

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Youth Arts Initiative Presents




F LY E R D E S I G N : M I K A L F L O Y D - P R U I T T


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