Raising awareness through public art

Young artist Autumn de Forest once said “My goal as an artist is to create art that makes people look at the world in a different way.”

That is exactly what Jaime, a mentee in our Youth Frontiers program, has done this year with the support of their mentor Lila – helped their local community look at the world in a different way. As an advocate in the LGBTIQ+ community, Jaime wanted to raise awareness, promoting equality and inclusion for the community through public interaction with art.

Jaime says, “The challenge for this project wasn’t having the vision for what I wanted to do, it was making it come alive with planning.”

Jaime was supported in the planning of this project by their mentor Lila who is training to be an art therapist. Lila’s practical skills, passion for art, and commitment to supporting Jaime were critical for making this project a success.

“I recognised a lot of myself in Jaime,” says Lila. “I could empathise with some of the challenges Jaime was going through, and saw that we could explore these together through art.”

Together, they put a giant stretch canvas in the Newcastle City Library, and promoted equality and inclusion for the LGBTIQ+ community by having the public help paint the canvas as they walked by.

For Jaime, the highlight was clear – seeing the whole community join in the painting of the mural helped to confirm that the community is more accepting than they thought. “It really helps to send a message to the LGBTIQ+ community that we have a lot of people behind us!” they say.

There were personal benefits to participating in Youth Frontiers for both Jaime and Lila. Jaime has benefited through having an older artistic mentor to draw inspiration from.

“It was amazing to have someone to be myself around. She is just as funny and weird as me,” says Jaime. “Through Lila’s mentoring, I feel like I have connected more with myself and am more in touch with who I am. Lila’s own art inspires me so much – she makes me realise I can be a playful artist for as long as I want.”

And for Lila, mentoring Jaime was a truly life-changing experience. “I’ve been recommending Youth Frontiers to others – it builds connections and teaches us adults the true potential of young people. Having the chance to be a part of an amazing and remarkable young person like Jaime rise to their power…my heart just opens!”

Do you think you could be a Youth Frontiers mentor?

Youth Frontiers is currently recruiting volunteer mentors – you could help young people like Jaime deliver an exciting project like this! All we need from our mentors is time, and a commitment to helping young people reach their potential.

YWCA Australia wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work, live and play and pay our respects to Elders past and present. We recognise First Nations people as the custodians of the lands, seas and skies, with more than 60,000 years of wisdom, connection and relationship in caring for Country.

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