Native youth explore feelings and identity through self-directed art

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

In recent months, our Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP) embarked on a creative art project exploring cultural identity and self-concept, spanning from self-portraits to a large collaborative art piece as part of our Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention (ATODP) programming.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Terrall Lewis, the guest artist and youth worker who facilitated the project, calls the process “Reparative and Re-creative Identity Development.”

Through the creative process, youth were guided to explore their identities, memories and unexpressed emotions. For the main piece, they decided on a large-scale graffiti canvas created with a variety of stencils and spray paints. The piece is big and expressive and communicates something about everyone who participated.

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

“There’s such a natural genius in young people who are surviving these times,” he reflected.  

The complete project was unveiled on May 26 during a spring family night, where the youth’s parents and siblings had a chance to see what they’d been working on over the past several months. Having so much ownership in the project gave the youth the opportunity to experiment and explore without censoring themselves. It also enhanced their sense of pride in what they accomplished. 

Photo by Division of Indian Work

Photo by Division of Indian Work

“This is a space for you to just be you and just be young and do fun stuff,” Lewis said to the youth near the beginning of the project. “It’s an organic space for you to express yourself.”

More photos at https://flic.kr/s/aHskvFZENF