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Wednesday
Nov052008

SWAY - Young Artists in Action

Every Monday afternoon, several middle and high school age students gather to draw, paint, sculpt, chat, laugh, listen to music, and ultimately, make compelling individual and collaborative art pieces. This weekly art
sojourn has been going on for nearly a decade - many of the Young Artists Studio students have been coming to the mural-covered building at Totland Park since they were toddlers themselves.

I always feel the (suffrage) movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.
—Alice Paul

Most recently, these accomplished young artists worked together to create a series of portraits featuring six champions of the voting rights movement: Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Burns, Miguel Trujillo, Dora Lewis,and Frederick Douglas. The 24” x 36” portraits were inspired by the artistic style of Romare Bearden whose work exhibits a vibrant fusion of painting and collage. To create a visual theme for the series, each group of collaborators incorporated into their compositions copies of “The Voter’s Bill of Rights” (in Mandarin, Spanish, and English) along with some interpretation of the American flag. Photo-copied photographs provided a starting point, but soon, these portraits were grafted with new facial features as the students reinterpreted their subject’s image and historical significance. Dora Lewis, pictured below, has Frida Kahlo’s left eye and insects crawl among the flowers of her hat. This representation of Lewis, a voting rights activist who was arrested and beaten to unconsciousness for picketing before Woodrow Wilson’s White House, presents the squinting glance of a woman who suffered to be regarded as more than a moon-eyed society wife in a flowered hat, someone worthy of casting her vote as an American citizen.

The portrait series has been made into a poster set with captions encouraging citizens to vote on November 4th. You may see these posters on telephone poles and other public surfaces around town, courtesy of SWAY, a group of young guerilla artists committed to making the work of young artists visible and useful. The original portraits will be available at the YAWS auction be held as a part of the 10th Anniversary celebration planned for this spring.

Click here to view the slideshow of some of the artist's works.

Posters are available for sale at the YAWS studio or by contacting Jennifer Burke. Available for $5 each or $25 for the set. All proceeds go to support future SWAY projects and YAWS SCHOLARSHIP FUND.

 

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