“Voice What Matters”, the banner above the stage read, and that is exactly what the youth of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) did. From paintings to sculptures, to videos, songs and dance, they showed who they are and what matters to them. This year the DYS held the 4th Annual “Share Your Art, Share Your Voice!” Statewide Youth Showcase on June 16th at the Paramount Center.
The motivation for the investment in the arts came about because, as Peter Forbes, the Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services said, “Many of the youth are not happy to be with us (DYS), so we have to try to figure out what they’re interested in and use that interest as a hook for the change process. Many of the youth have unbelievable artistic talent, but they often don’t have exposure to the arts to see that, so this is something the agency put forward”.
The showcase began with an art sale entirely composed of art by youth artists who received the proceeds of the sale of their art. Walking through the display, all around was the excited chatter of the attendees eyeing the pieces they were going to purchase. “They’re going fast” said one onlooker. “I know they always do” said another.
Bob Turilo, Assistant DYS Commissioner has attended the event every year and displays the art that he buys in his office, adding four more to his collection this year. As he put it, he buys the paintings because he knows “each youth put a lot into it, and the incredible quality of the artwork. The ones that I buy are the ones that I read the description of and I can see their self-expression. I often buy self-portraits.”
A self-portrait on display and had sold within 15 minutes of the sale beginning was entitled “Purple Stands for Loyalty”, the artist, Kevin wrote in his description “I feel good that I did this self-portrait. Purple is my favorite color.”
Another artist whose painting “Look Closely” was sold described her thought process as being “pretty much everyone has a different perspective, a different eye. For this, trees make me feel calmed down, like I’m in a forest alone.”