ROSMY Youth Create Multi-Media Exhibit and Book at GCCR
Images via Art 180 and Bill Harrison
Everyone loves ROSMY – the Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth – and now’s your chance to come out and show that support! For the past month, a collection of the youth’s multi-media art work has been on display in the gallery area at the GCCR and the exhibit is coming to a close this weekend – but not before one last gathering to support the programs that made it all happen.
The works on display are the product of a long time relationship between ROSMY and Art 180. All the work was create by ROSMY youth. Some of it is on display in the GCCR’s gallery space, as well as printed into books which will be for sale at the event.
Beth Panilaitis, executive Director of ROSMY said the collaboration between her group and Art 180 has been wildly successful, and this exhibit, and companion book, are evidence of that.
“Art 180 came in and worked with the youth over a series of months. They helped with masks, written pieces, sculpture, and a whole variety of mediums,” said Panilaitis. “It’s a great book, you’ll see it at the event.”
The mash-up of art with LGBTQ youth is something that ROSMY and Panilaitis work hard to encourage – not only does art make for a great physical representation of the work the group does, but it also provides an outlet for the issues these youth face.
“For some young people, art is a way they can really express themselves. So we came at it with a holistic perspective and give the youth every opportunity to really be themselves and to show who they are,” said Panilaitis.
Art 180′s Program Manager Betsy Kelly agreed wholeheartedly – her groups mission, to provide young people in challenging circumstances encouraging personal and community change through self-expression, fits in nicely with ROSMY’s goal of supporting sexual and gender minority youth.
“There’s definitely issues that these young people are exploring and I think is helpful to have different artistic media to work with to do that,” said Kelly. “The way our programs work and the way ROSMY’s program works, I think there’s a really natural fit there.”
Beyond the art displayed at the exhibit, a companion book was printed by Art 180 that highlights the stories and struggles these youth face, all told through their own work. Kelly said the project sprung from the two groups long time partnership, and this book is the culmination of that work. ”The book combines subject matter from support groups that young people were involved in at ROSMY and then using an art 180 project to kind of explore and express some of the issues they are facing as LGBTQ youth.”
But the book is not only for the kids and their family members and friends. Kelly hopes those who pick up the book will also be folks who are less exposed to the challenges the ROSMY youth face. “We want to get the book into the hands of supporters, but also those who may not know someone who is a sexual or gender minority, being able to learn from that very personal story telling.”
Bill Harrison, the Executive Director of the GCCR, was proud to be able to support the two groups in the project, saying the book and exhibit are a powerful expression of the struggles these youth face.
“It has certainly been meaningful for us to be surrounded by their work the last few weeks,” said Harrison. “I have felt connected to several of the youth by looking at their work, yet we have never even met.”
The exhibit – “Every Rainbow Thing I Can Find” – closes this Sunday, but the event to support ROSMY, Art 180, and this amazing book, happens this Sunday from 3-5PM at the Gay Community Center of Richmond.
“Times and culture have shifted and the organization has expanded over the course of 25 years toward building communities with LGBTQ+ youth, families, schools, and faith communities.”September 12, 2016
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