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Latino youth is getting the opportunity to display their artwork. Photo: Depositphoto
Latino youth is getting the opportunity to display their artwork. Photo: Depositphoto

New Art Start bilingual exhibit to profile young Latino adults and their art in Milwaukee

The exhibit is about empowering young Latinos to have confidence in their work and take it to new heights.

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many children relied on arts and crafts as a way to express themselves.

By using their hands and creating it, many went on to find serious talent and a capability to produce intricate art pieces. 

That is why the nonprofit Art Start’s branch in Milwaukee is dedicating its time to showcase the art of Latinx youth through its first fully bilingual portrait project, known as “See Me Because.”

The outdoor exhibit will feature photographs that depict what Latinos have struggled with throughout the pandemic. A centerpiece for each subject is a portrait.

Each portrait includes a biography about the artist, and a QR code that leads viewers to an interview with them.

The exhibit runs until July 31.

Its main purpose is to shed light on how young people of color would like to be. Naturally, they want their talents and skills on full display.

Ren Ayala, one of the artists involved in the project, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about her excitement to show off her art. She thanked her ancestors for highlighting plant medicine, a new healing method she’s recently discovered.

“To me, this is a tribute to them and my spiritual self,” Ayala told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s being able to accept that I have so many layers, and we all have so many layers and it’s beautiful to see that.”

Ayala went on to say the project has reconnected her to her culture, which she often had to hide when originally coming to Milwaukee as an immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico. 

“I feel like my ancestors are proud of me,” she said. “I can feel it.” 

Johanna De Los Santos, executive director of Art Start told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the value of giving kids like those showcased in the exhibit the confidence they need to show off their artwork, especially because they live in underprivileged areas.

“There are solid misconceptions and narratives that are reinforced by the geography of the city,” she said. “So any opportunity for youth to express some of the details of who they are and how they see themselves is great.”

Art Start was originally founded in 1991 with the goal to highlight the incredible talent of youth from marginalized urban areas.

In the process of getting children involved with creating art, they are also boosting their confidence, showing them their true talent, and providing them with the necessary tools to succeed in the art industry.

While exposing these children to different forms of artwork, they can find the process helpful and liberating.

With the help of 12,000 volunteers and teachers, the nonprofit has taught more than 25,000 youth.

Beyond Milwaukee, Art Start’s other location is in New York City.

To check out some of the artwork involved, go to Art Start’s website.

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