By Teddy Robertson
“A lot of the point of these workshops is to take these programs where the kids are,” says Casey Hamann.
Hamann and fellow artist Corinne Nuzum appear to be doing just that, expanding programs outward from their renamed “Youth Arts: Unlocked” (YAU) project (formerly Arts in Detention) in workshops they lead at Genesee Valley Regional Detention Center (GVRC), a short-term facility for youth court-ordered into detention.
They also are creating growing opportunities for the young artists’ work to be shared with the public.
At a Flint Art Walk exhibit of Youth Arts work in March at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Hamann and Nuzum described important changes in a program that since 2011 has been bringing varied arts workshops three nights a week to teens at the Pasadena Avenue facility and exhibiting their young artists’ work.
Achieving independence and nonprofit status
After a seven-year partnership with Buckham Gallery, documented here last year in EVM, the GVRC program has become an independent non-profit, a recognized charitable organization with its own board and 501(c) (3) status and a new name, “Youth Arts: Unlocked” (YAU).
Arts workshops continue at GVRC—Boys’ visual arts, funded through the Hagerman Foundation and a contract with the county); Boys’ theatre, including the Shakesprov program partially funded by the Michigan Humanities Council; HerStory: Unlocked, workshops for girls in spoken word poetry; and visual arts and dance, funded through the Hagerman Foundation and the Hand Foundation). Dance instructor Emma Davis received a two-year fellowship from the Jubilation Foundation for that work.
Last December Hamann and Nuzum took their visual art workshops beyond GVRC, to a new location and a new group of court-involved youth–teens on probation. Through a contract with Genesee County, “Youth Arts: Unlocked” provides weekly 60-minute arts workshops for both boys and girls at Bethel United Methodist Church, the Flint site for GearUP Academy, Fenton School District’s alternative school.
Their young artists’ work will be featured this month at the Greater Flint Arts Council (GFAC) “Young Artists Today” exhibit, a first appearance at the gallery, 816 Saginaw St. The show opens during the April 12 Flint Art Walk, 6-9 p.m.
Vocational rehab, social skills training added too
Also at the Bethel site is Peckham, Inc., a non-profit community organization that provides vocational rehabilitation, training to be work- and career-ready, and special programming. Although new in Genesee County, Peckham has been providing youth services in Lansing for over 30 years.
According to Sarah Britton, director of youth services for Peckham in Genesee County and vocational trainer for court-involved youth, the Peckham part is crucial because “Social skills and healing are so important to release some of the things they [teens on probation] are dealing with. To get them where they want to be, you have to look at their experience—they are carrying way too much.”
Trauma-informed programs and yoga connections
For teen girls on probation, Peckham runs a trauma-informed program for survivors of sexual abuse and human trafficking called “Embers.” This month Hamann and Nuzum will add a visual arts component to Embers as well.
This year YAU will offer a new program to justice-involved girls, a pilot project with the Art of Yoga Project http://theartofyogaproject.org/ from California, to offer a trauma-informed yoga and arts workshop. Two yoga instructors from YAU, Marcia McGee and Jessica Hammon, have attended The Art of Yoga Project training. YAU is one of eight organizations in the Project’s nationwide pilot cohort that will implement trauma-informed and gender responsive model for marginalized girls in juvenile detention and other locations. “YAU plans to have the model integrated into programming by May for girls at GVRC and then extended to girls on probation,” says Shelley Spivack, YAU co-director.
Now independent, Youth Arts: Unlocked has expanded its displays beyond Buckham, exhibiting the teens’ artwork in various other venues and at specific events, such as the March Flint ReCAST Resiliency Summit at Southwestern Academy.
Highlights of upcoming exhibits include:
April 2019—Duderstadt Gallery Ann Arbor, part of exhibit accompanying the play, Flint, by UM-Ann Arbor professor, José Casas https://arts.umich.edu/news-features/19752-2/
April 2019—29th Annual “Young Artists Today” exhibit at Greater Flint Arts Council (first time for YAU art).
May 10 2019—Presenting an Innovation in Motion workshop at the National Crittenton conference in Atlanta, accompanied by a UM-Flint intern. https://nationalcrittenton.org/in-solidarity-2019/
June 2019—Flint Art Walk, display at ELGA Credit Union
May 2020—Display at Kettering University (tentative)
June 2020—Flint Art Walk, display at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
EVM Staff Writer and columnist Teddy Robertson can be reached at email@example.com.
Banner shows YAU assemblage– Photo by Teddy Robertson. Student artists are not identified to protect their privacy, YAU teachers explained.