In its second year, the Center for Youth Equity Youth Art Contest amplifies young people’s voices in conversations about how to make their neighborhoods and schools safe, supportive spaces where they can thrive. Their perspectives on fairness, safety, and community can inspire action toward a future free from violence and full of access and opportunity. This year's theme of "Culture" asked artists ages 11 to 21 in New Orleans area parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines to contemplate how the arts (drawing, playing music, or other expression) or customs (traditions, food, and language of your ethnicity and community) make them feel they belong and provide support and inspiration, especially when they need it most.
The art contest received 23 submissions from all four eligible parishes and from ages 11 to 18. Their subject matter covered race, ethnicity, religion, pop culture, New Orleans customs, art, dancing, and food. A judging panel of area artists awarded a grand prize and four prizes according to age. The contest committee and staff awarded honorable mentions to seven artists.
Gianni Cobb, a 17-year-old artist who attends New Orleans Center for Creative Arts receive the Grand Prize. Her piece highlighted Black-American culture. She described the artwork as follows: “The figure on the left represents the past, and how my ancestors will always shadow and be a part of me. The figure on the far right represents various styles seen all throughout the diaspora. The figure in the middle represents culture as a whole, the grillz having gold and silver elements to show how there are so many overlaps and depth to culture, but it always comes out shining."
All the awards and submissions can be found in virtual exhibit here.
The Center for Youth Equity shared the artwork in a public exhibit at a gallery and creative space in the St. Claude Arts District. Artists along with their families, friends, and teachers attended the exhibit opening the first week in December, and the art remained on display through the month of January. The exhibition hosted approximately 75 attendees, and nearly 350 people have visited throughout December and January. Long-term display of the art will be at the Tulane University School of Public Health beginning in February 2024.
The Center for Youth Equity is a culturally responsive youth violence prevention research center embedded within the ongoing community partnerships and existing infrastructure of the Violence Prevention Institute of Tulane University to build and strengthen the network for youth violence prevention in New Orleans and across the Gulf South. It receives funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of their National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (YVPCs).