Washtenaw & Monroe Youth Centers
Youth Arts Alliance!
Ann Arbor & Monroe, Michigan
2017

Youth Arts Alliance! (YAA!) is a multi-county, collaborative arts project providing meaningful arts opportunities to youth in the juvenile justice system. This summer, youth artists at Washtenaw and Monroe County Youth Center participated in an intensive YAA! Mosaic Camp that introduced the process of designing and creating a glass, mosaic sculpture.

The design was inspired by Matisse’s transition from painting to paper cut-outs as he faced physical impairment later in life. These workshops drew from those themes of resilience and innovation in the face of challenges. Youth explored their values and wishes for the community.

One youth describes her experience, “I ended up liking the project. It kept my mind off of things, and the piece is so pretty.” Another, young artist shared his experience, “It was fun. I have never done it before, and I would definitely do it again.” YAA! Founding Director, Heather Martin, reports that 93% of participating youth say they’re trying a creative activity for the first time. Dozens of parents created mosaic pieces alongside their children and local elected officials collaborated as well.

Washtenaw County Youth Center Director, Lisa Greco, “I could go on and on about the risks and challenges of doing this kind of a piece in this kind of a facility, but I could go on even longer about the moving responses we’ve had from kids and families when they see it.”

Washtenaw County Probate Judge, Julia B. Owdziej, “We were so happy to partner with the Youth Arts Alliance to provide this opportunity to our kids. We try very hard to provide the kids with positive role models and expose them to healthy and creative outlets. They did a great job with this mosaic and should be very proud of themselves. I was honored to add my little section to their work.”

Youth Arts Alliance! uses creativity as a tool to alter potential for those in juvenile detention and treatment facilities by providing safe places for self-expression, collaboration and celebration, profoundly transforming the trajectory of individuals and their impact on society. YAA! has served thousands of Michigan youth since its founding in 2013.

This project is made possible by support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and donations made in memory of Richard Meisler.

About Youth Arts Alliance!
Youth Arts Alliance! provides creative arts workshops inside juvenile detention and residential treatment facilities in Southeast Michigan. The creative spaces the alliance makes facilitates incredible impact through taking positive, artistic risks while exploring the issues that have brought youth into the Juvenile Justice system. Youth Arts Alliance! (YAA!) serves youth who are in residential treatment and detention services at Jackson County Youth Center in Jackson, Monroe County Youth Center in Monroe, and Washtenaw County Youth Center in Ann Arbor. Additionally, YAA! has offered workshops to youth involved with the Livingston County Juvenile Court and Maurice Spear Campus in Lenawee County. Learn more at youthartsalliance.com.

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About Youth Arts Alliance!
Youth Arts Alliance! provides creative arts workshops inside juvenile detention and residential treatment facilities in Southeast Michigan. The creative spaces the alliance makes facilitates incredible impact through taking positive, artistic risks while exploring the issues that have brought youth into the Juvenile Justice system. Youth Arts Alliance! (YAA!) serves youth who are in residential treatment and detention services at Jackson County Youth Center in Jackson, Monroe County Youth Center in Monroe, and Washtenaw County Youth Center in Ann Arbor. Additionally, YAA! has offered workshops to youth involved with the Livingston County Juvenile Court and Maurice Spear Campus in Lenawee County. Learn more at youthartsalliance.com.

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