WOTS/VDLJ embarked on a journey to create an art exhibit, where they showcased their original artworks. With their creations, squad members freely explored their ideas, while learning how to navigate the world as artists.
“I think this program is really important, because as a child and as teen there was nothing like this for me. Specifically a space for black and brown youth only,” said youth coordinator Yosi Rodriguez.
WOTS/VDLJ amplifies the voices of BIPOC youth by giving them resources, and agency for their work. To prepare for the exhibit, squad members meet 3 days a week, sit down, and create their projects. When they finish, they frame, price and varnish their pieces with help from their coordinators.
“It gives me a sense of responsibility that I usually wouldn’t be given. Adults trust me. At the same time I get to enjoy being young,” said squad member Ilah Pennacchini.
Squad members made individual pieces and co-created large murals with the different concepts under the overall theme of a “bad idea.” The inspiration behind the exhibit was created during a pitch meeting for the exhibit, when one of the participants exclaimed “This is a bad idea.”
“We knew it wasn’t a bad idea,” said WOTS/VDLJ program coordinator Laura Padilla, “but we were definitely nervous to explore getting out of our comfort zones to execute this whole project–and that was scary. Perhaps it is a bad idea, but one we were willing to take the challenge.”
For the exhibit, squad members created pieces exploring the concepts of capitalism, patriarchy, and mental health. For some squad members, they used their art as a way to express their emotions.
Naomy Trejo and Lindsay Guerra made murals exploring the duality of mental health. Naomy said, “When you see black and white what do you think? You think of the extremes.” Naomy and Lindsay represent the overwhelming feeling when you are being consumed by too much, and the relief when you find hope through contrasting colors, black and white.
A different piece by Oshun Jean and Natalie Ramirez challenged perspectives, and how the vulnerability of the viewer distorts reality. Their vibrant piece is a commentary on how patriarchy and matriarchy co-exist in the world we live in today.
“Both paintings show the destruction that comes with lack of perspective from all people and places. And both are lacking the other to create needed balance,” the duo said.
The squad members spent months preparing for this exhibit. Their time and effort produced a month-long exhibit at the Revolve studio.
“This art exhibition is important because it is sending a message to our youth that art and creativity is actually accessible to them, and what might be perceived as a bad idea can actually result in something really great,” Padilla said. “I think we tend to underestimate the power and the beauty of the teenage soul, but they have so much to say and so much to give. We are going through a lot as humanity, our ancestors have gone through so much and we want to give access to the teens to leave a print of their perspectives, emotions and hopes.”