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From justice to automakers to essential workers, Youth Arts Competition winners are diverse and creative

This colorful piece by Moumita Chawdhury is one of our Youth Arts Competition winners. It represents workers helping the world during covid-19, and people of many faiths unified in prayer for the world. © Moumita Chawdhury.

They live in Detroit, of course, and Hamtramck, Holly and Fraser. They work in crayons, acrylic or watercolor paint, ink and many other mediums. Their creativity and work are as fresh as the latest headlines – and as timeless as the puppy who is part of one child’s picture.

They are the eleven winners of the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition, winners, winners whose diversity and creativity make them wonderful representations of Detroit and of Mint Artists Guild’s hopes and expectations.

“We hope for better things, in Detroit. We rise from the ashes, each day, to build our communities. The Youth Arts Competition is a manifestation of our uniquely Detroit spirit of hustle and hope,” said Will ‘The Poet’ Langford. Langford worked with Mint co-founder Vickie Elmer to hustle to launch and develop the competition, starting in June. They both serve on Mint’s board of directors.

The winners range from kindergarden to college and chose a wide variety of subjects for their art and poetry. Mint intends to share more of their stories and work in future blog and social media posts, so here briefly are our 2020 winners:

  • Moumita Chawdhury, 18, Hamtramck, “Unifying, The Hope of a New Beginning,” oil pastels and colored pencils from Bangladesh.
  • Ishaan Kundapur, 13, Northville. “Beautiful Detroit: Birthplace of the Auto Industry,” water color. (Mint greeting card winner)
  • Sydney Lenn, 17, Fraser. “No Justice, No Peace.” Black and white photograph.
  • Ife Martin, 16, West Bloomfield. Silence. Spoken word poem.
  • Tahlia Ray, 16, Detroit. “Unity.” Fiber art.
  • Arise Elisabeth Rock, 15, Detroit. “The Ascension” three-part acrylic painting. And City of People, poem. (Yes, she won twice, though the judges did not know that.)
  • Justus Smith, 10, Detroit. “Rising from the Ashes.” Mixed media piece.
  • Fae Taylor, 6, Hazel Park. “The Daytime.” Mixed media with crayons.
  • Fiona Taylor, 5, Hazel Park. “Puppy’s eyes.” Mixed media with paint. (Yes they are sisters and yes, the puppy piece is adorable!)
  • Aarionna Totty, 9, Holly. “Community Vision.” Mixed media / vision board.
This winning photograph is called “No Justice. No Peace.” It was taken by Sydney Lenn. who also participated in this protest. © Sydney Lenn

Several of the pieces reflected the Black Lives Matter movement or the covid-19 crisis that engulfed the world and how art brings us together in trying times. Others shared the beauty of Detroit, with its leafy trees and lovely streets. About a third of the winners created based on each of our three themes: Detroit is beautiful, art as a unifier and Detroit’s “we rise from the ashes” motto.

Winners were chosen by current Mint Artists, our alumni, professional artists and writers and two of Mint’s co-founders. All of the winning art will be professionally framed by Jo’s Gallery or Sherwood Forest Art Gallery. And all the winners receive a prize package and $225 in cash prizes, underwritten by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and individual donors. Then the art will go on display in Detroit at our partner businesses and at a Mint Showcase along Livernois, known as “the Avenue of Fashion.” Our two poetry winners will share their spoken word in public too. (Winners will receive their art back by yearend to hang in their place of honor. Follow Mint on Facebook or Instagram for details on showings.)

“We want to celebrate youth creativity and business generosity in a competition focused on Detroit’s beauty and resilience and on art as a unifying influence in today’s challenging world,” said Elmer.

Rising from the Ashes is the mixed media piece of 10-year-old Justus Smith of Detroit. This is his first art prize. (© Justus Smith)