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                                     The Arbor show on Young Artist Wall Nov/Dec 2023

“We want to start conversations,” says DFC Coordinator Vanessa Curl from the Arbor program at Redwood Community Services, Inc. To that end, she has initiated a youth art exhibition on substance use prevention and healthy lifestyles, which will be presented on the Corner Gallery’s Young Artist Wall for the months of November and December.

Vanessa elaborates, “The theme is the participants’ relationship with substance use and wellness… and additional societal issues that occur due to all of that. Young people interact with the world in much different ways than adults do, and we wanted to explore how they see these important issues and how they feel about them. We want to encourage a positive and healthy lifestyle and promote a sense of ownership and active participation in our community.”

Vanessa believes that this project can inspire not only conversations, but positive decision making for both the artists and the viewers. The intention is to eventually have the art displayed in a variety of supportive venues so adults can see what kids in our community are feeling, and hopefully make some policy changes to positively impact all of us.

One of the participating artists talks about her process… “I’ve been painting since elementary school. I started with scribbles. My mom put me in activities to see what would stick, and I discovered a passion for art. I can’t give myself many compliments, but art is something I’m pretty good at. I think my piece represents insecurities in general, which are imposed on us by society’s standards about what you should look like… what is and isn’t considered beautiful. The measuring tape I put in the piece represents being measured up... both literally and figuratively. It’s vulnerable for me to put something so personal out there, but it’s the only way we can make an impact.”

Another artist considered carefully to find the words to express their reasons for participating in this project… “A lot of times younger artists are overlooked and often understated or ignored due to generational bias. This project brings our point of view into the narrative, where you have to at least acknowledge us.”

Guests at the Gallery are strongly encouraged to take the necessary time to view this display and read each of the artists’ statements. This is definitely not a collection of “pretty” paintings… it’s an honest and sobering look into the hearts of young members of our own community… but presented in the spirit of hope. In Vanessa’s words. “This project has the potential to create a lasting impact by engaging youth and the community in a creative and educational exploration of substance use prevention, healthy lifestyles and community well-being. By harnessing the power of art, collaboration and community involvement, we can foster positive change, empower youth voices and contribute to a healthier and more informed community.”


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