Arvie Smith, a noted teacher and artist, is introducing youth at the Multnomah County (Oregon) juvenile detention center to the arts by helping them create five murals that will eventually be displayed in the center.
Smith, an associate professor at Pacific Northwest College of Art, has been spending four nights a week at the Donald E. Long Home, working with youth on family portraits and the mural project in partnership with the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
The plywood murals will each measure 15 feet by 8 feet. One was recently displayed at the Oregon Historical Society and there are plans to place the murals in public buildings throughout Portland so that everyone can have access and appreciate them.
Smith has taught more than 109 of the center’s youth since the summer of 2009.
"In a lot of cases they've been told, ‘You can't do anything, you're no good, you're the underclass,’" Smith said. "For me, I see them engage in something they probably thought they could never do. My job is to say, 'Yes, you can. Sure, you can.'"
The Hennepin County (Minnesota) JDAI is planning a similar project with noted muralist Jimmy Longoria this spring.
The artist and his wife founded Mentoring Peace Through Art, which “identifies, engages, and develops leadership potential of young individuals through art projects.”
"What happens when you work with me is you become fearless,” Longoria told the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
"I throw these kids right into the fray. Their chance for failure is greater than their chance of success, but what they're learning is real character-building stuff. They learn by doing.”
For more information contact Tina Edge at firstname.lastname@example.org or Angelique Kedem at email@example.com.
Hope for the future is the theme used to create murals.
Multnomah youth admire finished project.
Exhibition of five murals planned for 2011.