Public Art Installation Offers Lessons to Youth
In collaboration with The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, Group Creatives, Jordan Weber and Lee Heinemann, CFUM’s Whyld Girls and Backyard Boyz had the privilege of being involved in an initiative to bring a major art installation to Des Moines this summer. The piece pays homage to the legacy of 12 individuals that resemble the Whyld Girls and Backyard Boyz in so many ways.
In 1925, a group of African American lawyers from Des Moines formed the National Bar Association. They did so after they were denied entry into the American Bar Association because of the color of their skin. They took a stand for what was right and changed history. Efforts are currently underway to install Kerry James Marshall’s piece, “A Monumental Journey” along the Principal Riverwalk. Marshall, an African American artist, is known for large-scale paintings, sculpture, and objects that take African American life and history as the subject matter.
Participants spent the first week of summer programming learning about, “A Monumental Journey” and brainstorming ways to use art in their own community. Discussions and hands-on work led by local artist Mat Greiner of Group Creatives and local artist Jordan Weber helped students create their own art. Then, Lee Heinemann, an independent artist, organizer, and lead facilitator for the collaborative youth-centered video production company, “Get Your Life!” helped students put their work into motion.
Program participants will be amongst the crowd for the dedication of “A Monumental Journey” in Downtown Des Moines on Thursday, July 12th at 11 a.m. They will also have the opportunity to install the art piece they created, right here in our neighborhood. Not unlike the 12 lawyers in 1925, our Whyld Girls and Backyard Boyz are looking to change history.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Kerry James Marshall has current work held at acclaimed museums across the United States such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago), The Studio Museum (Harlem) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). Marshall once remarked: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central (Los Angeles) near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go.” CFUM program participants spent the first two weeks of summer learning about the ways in which they can speak their mind through art.