Student Art Spaces

— Written By Sam Chan
en Español / em Português

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Activism is all about making one’s voice heard and a picture tells a thousand words. Art has always been a medium for expressing the desire for changing. This collective of youth artists is hoping allow young people to express themselves and their passions through visual art.

A youth created artwork. A song bird is attached to a target with red string. There are bullet holes all around the target and some blood is dripping from the bird.

“The Slaughter of the Songbirds” by Autumn Blaylock

This piece, Student Art Spaces is written by Taylor Wang. She submitted this piece to be featured in #PassTheMicYouth. Interested in publishing your work on #PassTheMicYouth? Check out our Submissions Tab for more info.

My name is Taylor Wang. With my friend Alice Mao, I started an organization called Student Art Spaces that promotes accessibility for underprivileged youth artists. As two Asian American female youth artists, we felt that there was an overwhelming need for more youth presence in the arts.

So, we decided to take the issue into our own hands. Months of planning led up to our first gallery was in August, aptly titled “The Modern Youth Identity”. Teen artists across the country were invited to interpret this theme for the gallery at the Seattle Artist League. Mental health crises, political change, and other Gen-Z musings reigned among the pieces.

We received pieces from all over the world, each one telling a story of a youth experience. “The Slaughter of the Songbirds” by Autumn Blaylock, a March For Our Lives attendee, unapologetically expressed the anxiety surrounding school shootings. Claudia Marlenne Jasso Garcia mused, on her piece, about the idea of strength in her community following the El Paso tragedy. In her artist statement for her piece “Love”, Angela Bi states that she “wanted to portray the darker side of Asian families and the meaning of love within high expectations”. Many others, like Alexia Giselle Gonzalez who painted “Rest Easy”, expressed their thoughts on mental health. These are just a few of the stories that our passionate, unyielding artists have to show. Through conversations with the attendees, many of which are much older, we could both compare and contrast our life experiences, and talk about the issues that plague society today.

A challenge we want to address is the elitism in the art industry. Application fees, shipping fees, printing fees can all add up to a significant burden, especially for young artists. We want to break down these financial barriers, along with racial and gender barriers for these minority artists. Through our endeavor, it has become painfully clear how many artists’ stories are overshadowed by those who are more financially secure/advantaged. To do our part in changing that, we created this show, by youth, for youth. Through a combination of local grants and a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, we were able to offer 43 young artists a completely fee-free show in Seattle. However, we want our show to inspire others as well. We support other organizations that promote youth accessibility!

Thanks to Taylor for submitting this piece about Student Art Spaces! Want to learn more about Student Art Spaces? Check out their website and follow them on Instagram.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who comes to mind when you think of an artist? What identities did these artists share? Maybe it’s their race, gender, or age. Why do you think that is?
  2. Do local art museums and galleries have youth-centered activities and events? Are you aware of any?
  3. Is art accessible to all? There are a variety of factors such as socioeconomic status, age, and gender that may limit art. How can we make art more accessible?