Made New Arts will be having its first exhibition at Gallery Protocol in Gainesville, Florida on Friday, June 9th. Artist Hilary White started the program in February to offer a positive, creative outlet to children in the Ignite Refuge shelter in Gainesville. After one of the youths returned to juvenile detention, White expanded to the Alachua County Juvenile Detention Facility. The effect that this program has had on the children goes beyond making art. Seeing their artwork formally exhibited is part of that. “I wanted the kids to feel empowered by their creative vision and work, so the idea was that the gallery space and the community that comes out for this event helps to encourage each child.”
Much of the work is already online for purchase here, with each unique painting or sculpture affordably priced and already framed. All of the funds go to the child who created the work, something that White anticipates will increase their confidence and be, “very exciting and satisfying for a child or teen who has never had the opportunity to [earn their own money.]”
The exhibition will be a one-night event, no doubt something special for White’s students.
“The statistics are so stacked against the kids who age out of the foster system,” White knows the numbers too well. “For example 1 in 5 will become homeless, only 15% graduate with a high school diploma, 50% are incarcerated within a few years of ‘aging out.’” In the three months that she has been working with youth, three have gone from the shelter to juvenile detention. The expansion of MNA to the Alachua County facility was prompted by one child and is touching the lives of all the youth who chose to participate there.
In the face of these harsh statistics, White has always seen more than numbers. “It saddens me because these kids radiate life when they are focused and creating in class. Their art reflects that facet of themselves that still dreams, and still hopes, and still contains innocence. Working with these young people and seeing their art tells me that they are so much more than a statistic or an outward appearance or an attitude. I believe that their past is not who they have to become, it doesn’t have to be the end of their life story, and they need to know that. It’s a bigger job than I can handle alone. This really needs to be the work of a community as a whole. That is why it is imperative that the show be open to the public and that these kids experience this exhibition. They deserve it. They are important, and they have purpose.”
White is also wanting to open an MNA art space in the community so that participants who ‘age out’ of the system will still have a place to be connected to the program. White does make an effort to reach out to children who leave once they turn 18, return to their families, or are adopted. “I also give them my contact, a card for MNA, a letter after they leave the classes and I try to contact them through their case worker so they know they have a reference, and a support system in the community.”
The exhibition will be open from 5-9pm. All work that is sold before June 9th will be mailed after the show.
Made New Arts Foster Youth Program Exhibition
June 9th 5-9pm
2029 NW 6th Street
Gainesville, FL 32605
Made New Arts Big Cartel (works for sale)