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December 4, 2020
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A visual art project for quarantining teens

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
May 15, 2020

In light of the magnitude of the recent shelter-in-place order brought on by COVID-19, ArtStart, a local non-profit educational arts organization, is inviting teens ages 14 to 20 to offer their unique perspective for their new project, “Shelter-in-Place: A Visual Portrayal.” The submitted artwork will be woven together into a larger design, first released virtually and subsequently painted onto a sizeable community mural.

“We are at the threshold of change; this extraordinary experience offers an opportunity to reflect and express,” says Jennifer Mygatt Tatum, Creative Director for ArtStart and brainchild behind the project. “Let art comfort and heal, providing a crossroads to bring people together in a new way. A collaged mural painting will be one of the greatest forms of representation, to spark conversations about who we are, what we stand for and how we will be remembered.”

The idea for the community mural was inspired by Tatum’s experience with Precita Eyes Muralists Association, a community-based non-profit mural and arts education group located in the Mission District of San Francisco, as well as artist and architect Lilli Ann Killen Rosenberg, who initiated collaborative community art projects in which she engaged children and adults in creating responsive public art. In both cases, art from many different contributors were woven together to create a larger community-based mural.  

“I think the most important thing now is to use art as a way of expressing this time and helping students and teens have a space and a platform to express how they’re feeling,” says Tatum. “Art holds an enormous amount of power - the power to express, the power to heal, and the power to share our stories. This is a really important time to share our stories.”

The project aims to showcase how teens currently see their roles in their community at this critical time. In addition, ArtStart is requesting teens to ask themselves, “Where do you find hope, strength and compassion? What are the feelings of yourself and those around you? How do you see this moment in history?” 

“Right now we’re in our homes and we’re really in our community,” says Tatum. “You have the potential of seeing how your role plays out and how it affects the community. You have a choice in your actions and how those actions can change the environment that you live in. How do you portray that? Shelter-in-place isn’t just about having a mask on your face. Your visual portrayal should be something that represents personally how you are feeling in your community. Are you feeling hopeful? What does that look like? Are you feeling fearful? How would you visually portray that? With everything changing, how do you see your future or the future you want to see?”

The youth are invited to submit sketches, drawings, paintings, photographs or digital art that visually portray the answers to these questions. No special art supplies are required and all levels are welcome. ArtStart will accept submissions from all over the world, not just Sonoma County. Indeed, they hope this call to create will reach across the globe in this pandemic that has united the world in solidarity to keep the disease from spreading.

The soft deadline for submissions is June 30, and where the final mural will be painted is yet to be determined. In the interim, the artwork will be shown online at artstart.us, on the ArtStart Facebook page, and on their Instagram page, “artstart.” Artists are asked to take a photo and send the image to info@artstart.us.