Art Partners Program Boosts Self-Esteem, Fosters Community
by Kati O'Hare
Oct 07, 2012 | 1903 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PROFESSIONAL QUILTER – and Art Partners mentor Rosella Grasha, right, helps her Art Partner apprentice learn the skills of quilting. (Courtesy Photo)
PROFESSIONAL QUILTER – and Art Partners mentor Rosella Grasha, right, helps her Art Partner apprentice learn the skills of quilting. (Courtesy Photo)
slideshow
MENTOR – Art Partners mentor Danelle Norman, right, of Ridgway, with a sculpture she and her Art Partner apprentice created. (Courtesy Photo)
MENTOR – Art Partners mentor Danelle Norman, right, of Ridgway, with a sculpture she and her Art Partner apprentice created. (Courtesy Photo)
slideshow

MONTROSE – Art is a broad term, with endless creative avenues to explore, and the Art Partners programs of Delta, Montrose and Ouray are using every one of those avenues to help cultivate self-esteem and empower the area's youth.

Art Partners is a youth-mentoring program that promotes the use of the arts to channel energy into positive behavior in young people.

More than a decade ago, the area's Partners program, which strategically places an adult mentor with a qualified child, was struggling to keep aging youth in the program.

"Art Partners came out of an interest in serving teens," Partners Executive Director Gayle Davidson said. "It was designed by teens themselves. They wanted a short-term and focused program."

This apprentice-mentorship program is for youths ages 12 to 17 who are interested in advancing their skills in the arts. They commit to one year, and are matched with a professional artist in their area of interest for at least three months. That adult shares his or her skills – from quilting, pottery and painting, to woodwork, silversmithing and archery – with their apprentice.  

"Especially in this area, where can you get a one-on-one mentor for something in the arts. It's a great opportunity for these kids," said professional quilter Rosella Grasha. "And it is also a great opportunity to make a difference with no expectation of return; however, you do get a return because you see them developing their own creativity."

Artist Lissette Riviere, a Partners caseworker who works to match the youth with the right artists, says the access to art provides these young adults with an important outlet.

"Art is a very individual and unique form of expression," she said. "A lot of teenagers don't want to talk. You ask them a question and get one-word answers. But when they do their art, they can work out those problems. It gives them a safe way to express themselves.

“No matter how messy things are in your life, when you are working on your art, the world goes away."

As part of the program, the young artists each donate one piece to the Art Partners program, and up to four pieces are submitted and displayed in an annual Art Partners Exhibition. All the proceeds from the exhibition go directly to the artists. The donated pieces are sold at a silent auction, with proceeds going back to support the program. The program also helps the young artist get into other shows and fairs.

"It gives them that sense of being part of the community," Riviere said.

The program is financially supported in other ways, as well.

Recently, Art Partners got $10,000 from Colorado Creative Industries, which will go toward purchasing supplies for the apprentices. Art Partners doesn't want the professional artists to have to pay for supplies to participate in the program, Davidson said.

The program's budget is about $125,000 annually, and a substantial piece of that is funded through the Colorado Department of Behavior Health, which provides about $100,000 to support the entire Partners program, of which Art Partners is a component.

"I have seen this program change children's lives," Riviere said. "Kids that didn't have a focus or a goal, go off to college and know what they want to do, and I don't think that would have happened hadn't they been mentored by an artist."





Kati O'Hare at kohare@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @katiohare

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet