Unveiling the Transformative Power of Artist Grants, last year’s winners did what?!

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As we reflect on the impact of last year’s grants, the stories of Mars Wright, Kenley Turner, and Kelsey Giroux stand out as beacons of creativity, resilience, and advocacy. These individuals, empowered by their grants, have not only pursued their artistic endeavors but have also created projects that resonate deeply with the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s delve into the transformative journeys of these grant recipients.

Mars Wright: “Trans Joy is Resistance”

Project Overview: Mars Wright envisioned “Trans Joy is Resistance” as a three-month solo gallery show in the City of West Hollywood. The exhibition boasted a grand opening ceremony, featuring Black Trans artists, a captivating DJ, and live painting sessions. The focus was on showcasing Trans joy as an act of resistance against societal norms that seek to suppress their existence.

The Impact: Mars used the grant to create a space where joy and pleasure became instruments of activism. The exhibition’s title, “Trans Joy is Resistance,” encapsulated the essence of the project – a celebration of identity in defiance of oppressive systems. The grant enabled Mars to host not only a visually stunning gallery show but also meaningful artist talks and live sessions, fostering a sense of community and solidarity.

Why It Matters: In a society where transgender and nonbinary youth face disproportionately high rates of mental health challenges, Mars aimed to provide a message of hope and resilience. The project actively countered the alarming statistics from The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, emphasizing that life is worth living.

The Future: Mars aspires to continue using art as a tool for change. The intersection of art, clothing, and gender euphoria will remain central to their work. By addressing the pressing issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community, Mars is paving the way for a more inclusive and affirming world through artistic expression.

Find more of mars here!

Kenley Turner: “Safe Spaces”

Project Overview: Kenley Turner conceptualized a two-day art therapy workshop, “Safe Spaces,” targeting LGBTQ older teens and young adults. The workshop focused on the concept of space, with participants creating dioramas representing their perception of a safe space. Kenley, as the guest artist, played a crucial role in guiding students through this therapeutic process.

The Impact: The grant allowed Kenley to execute a workshop that went beyond traditional art sessions. By channeling emotions into tangible objects, the participants not only created representations of their feelings but also developed a sense of ownership over their safe spaces. The final framed dioramas served as portable reminders of their agency in crafting their supportive environments.

Why It Matters: In a challenging socio-political landscape, particularly with bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community, the need for safe spaces is more critical than ever. Kenley’s project directly addressed the mental health impact of discriminatory policies, providing a creative outlet for LGBTQ youth to express themselves and find solace.

The Future: Kenley envisions expanding the impact of “Safe Spaces” to reach a broader audience. The project lays the groundwork for fostering supportive environments and reducing the negative impacts on mental health experienced by LGBTQ+ youth.

Kelsey Giroux: “Expanding Project COLOR the Future”

Project Overview: Kelsey Giroux’s project, “Juvenile (in)justice,” aimed to address the high juvenile incarceration rates in Wyoming. By leveraging community-based arts programs, the project sought to develop positive assets and protective frameworks for justice-involved youth.

The Impact: Kelsey’s project showcased the transformative power of arts-based programming for at-risk youth. By focusing on positive development assets, the project aimed to reduce delinquency, anger, depression, and other risk behaviors associated with juvenile justice involvement.

Why It Matters: The project addressed a pressing issue – Wyoming’s third-highest juvenile incarceration rate in the nation. Kelsey’s approach recognized the arts as more than therapeutic; it became a means for youth to voice their feelings, engage actively, and develop critical skills.

The Future: Kelsey envisions a continued collaboration between community programs and arts-based initiatives to benefit underserved rural youth. By emphasizing the positive impact of the arts, the project aims to reduce recidivism and provide a path towards a more hopeful future for justice-involved youth.

In conclusion, the grants awarded to Mars Wright, Kenley Turner, and Kelsey Giroux exemplify the profound impact of art in creating positive change. These projects not only amplify the voices of marginalized communities but also contribute to a more inclusive and empathetic society. As we celebrate their achievements, we look forward to witnessing the ongoing impact of their artistic endeavors on the communities they serve.

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