In September of 2018, the first ever meeting of the South Shore Arts Teen Arts Board took place. At that time, the group did not have a name or a vision, but it was this first cohort of high school students who were tasked with making those decisions and founding the youth-led network of high school students interested in pursuing opportunities in the arts field. The group participated in brainstorming and visioning sessions to determine their direction and eventually named it the Teen Arts Board. At that time, they unanimously agreed that collaborating on a public art project would be a top priority.
The Teen Arts Board began working towards that goal, without yet knowing what the theme of their project would be or what medium would be the best fit for their project. In May of 2020, the message for their public art project became clear. They decided that the project would convey an anti-racism message and that a mural would be the best medium for expressing that message. The group began researching other mural projects, learning about local mural artists, sketching and discussing their ideas. Eventually, the Teen Arts Board was granted funding from the Legacy Foundation that would allow them to begin their work.
Local artist, Ish Muhammad, was chosen as the collaborating artist for the project with the Teen Arts Board. Ish began meeting with the group virtually to discuss the process of creating a mural and to brainstorm ideas for their specific project. Over the course of two months, the group worked together with Ish to sketch ideas and to bring those ideas together in a cohesive composition for their painting. Ish guided them through the process, offering advice from his many years of experience, but ensured that the content of the mural was completely the voice of the members of the Teen Arts Board. The group participated in every phase of the project, from planning, to designing, preparing surfaces, detail painting, and sealing the finished work.
Now that the mural is complete, it is scheduled to be displayed at high schools in Hammond, Lowell, Merrillville, and in the downtown Hammond area. The members of the Teen Arts Board have begun the work of talking with teachers and school administrators to find exhibition space for this 8-foot by 16-foot work of art. Over the next year, the mural will be a traveling art piece, with the goal of displaying it in as many communities as possible, and eventually landing at a long-term home in Hammond.
The display locations for the mural will be shared on South Shore Arts’ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feed. This project was made possible with generous support from the Legacy Foundation and with the expertise of artist Ish Muhammad.
South Shore Arts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming lives and strengthening communities through the arts. The Teen Arts Board is a free program for high school students interested in pursuing opportunities in the arts field. For more information about the Teen Arts Board, visit https://www.southshoreartsonline.org/teen-art-board, or contact the South Shore Arts Director of Education, Summer Scharringhausen, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 219-836-1839 ext. 103.