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!)
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.
When we leap into something new and big, it helps to bring along an optimist and a make-magic-happen person like Will Langford.
Known as Will The Poet, he has a history of helping Mint and our young artists. And he also served as the voice of Michigan State University’s “Empower Extraordinary” campaign. He will use his positive energies and extraordinary network in Detroit to lead Mint in a new initiative: the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition. It launched this week and runs through Aug. 4.
He was the first and best choice when Mint executive director Vickie Elmer came up with the idea to create a competition to engage and encourage children to be creative in these challenging times. He immediately said yes.
“I’ve engaged in the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition because I believe that Detroit is wealthy beyond our wildest dreams—in that our youth bear such light, intellect, and sheer talent,” said Langford. “And Detroit is home to that undeniably spirit of hustle and hope, because when I look around me, I see artists, educators, parents, business owners, and co-conspirators who are committed to the growth of the Motor City.”
Children and youth who are age 21 or younger, as of Aug. 4, and live in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan are encouraged to create visual art or poetry based on the three prompts Will wrote.
Those prompts and a lot of other information about the Youth Arts Competition are available on our website. Completed poetry and art also may be uploaded there.
Will Langford is a Detroit native, a poet, teaching artist, and Fulbright scholar. He is the 2017 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He divides his energy between education and community development projects in his hometown, East Africa, and the East Lansing area, where he is a Ph.D. student at Michigan State in curriculum Instruction and teacher education.
Will joined the Mint board of directors in January. Yet he already is well known as an active Mint supporter, a volunteer and ambassador who buys Mint art.
His idea for blackout poetry was featured in the Mint blog series Creative Ideas for Challenging Times. And since Mint regularly brings poetry into its Creative Summer Jobs program, it was easy and smart to add poems to our competition this summer.
Now Will is working to bring in businesses and nonprofits that believe in children and creativity and will donate prizes, awards cash or promotion to our competition. He and Mint have landed some beauties including Arts & Scraps, Avalon International Breads, Confident Brands, Jo’s Gallery, North End Customs, Sherwood Forest Art Gallery and others. We welcome your organization to join us in this joyful initiative; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
And we hope that you or your children, grandchildren, nieces, cousins, siblings, best friends, roommates and others who are 21 or less will enter the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition. Will cannot wait to see what you write, draw or create!
This summer, more than most, artists need to economize. They may find themselves with no art fairs, with galleries closed or gone and regular buyers feeling frugal themselves. Unemployment is high and uncertainty is too.
So it’s the perfect time to learn to live and create on the cheap. Follow the lead of model and television star Tyra Banks, who said: “I’m frugal. I’ve always been this way. When I was young, my mom would give me my allowance, and I’d peel off a little each week and have some to spare.”
Create a more independent approach to living by cutting your spending – and increasing your future possibilities. Here’s some ideas for emerging artists:
Develop a frugal outlook. Some people grow up with this, following their mom or aunt to yard sales. Others must work to ingrain a make the most with the least mindset in their lives and creative practices. Start with a living life large on the cheap mantra, or borrow mine: “I live an abundant life on a modest paycheck.”
Get creative. Reuse items in your art. Develop a mixed media series glued and painted on old cookie sheets. Or concoct a project using blueprints as the backdrop. Create a list of possible materials: Old windows and doors work well as canvases to paint and some artists create on records or books. Sculptors may remake old metal shelves or rakes and shovels.
Find joy in the journey. Your approach to frugality should make it fun or an adventure. Create a “cheapskate challenge” with your siblings or friends. Plant peppers or potatoes or find one of the many free food handouts that are all around these days. Plan dinner with four friends at home instead of heading to a bar or restaurant. Log how many days you go without buying anything online, and celebrate when you hit 30.
Find it for free on Craigslist and Nextdoor. Search in a few areas, starting in the “free” section. Then look for garage sales, gigs and other items for sale. If you are really looking for something specific, consider placing an ad as a way to land what you need. Be clear that your budget is tiny.
Shop garage and estate sales. You will find plentiful options in the summer and fall. Head to estatesales.net or download a garage sale locator app to identify where you’re going. Look for multi-family sales or church sales for a wider array of items. We recommend showing on on the final day, when prices are discounted by 50 to 75 percent.
Find flea markets and junk yards. Grab your mask and gloves and go after some real bargains. But don’t buy it just because it’s affordable. Buy it because you need it for your art, your family or your future.
Join us for the first-ever virtual emerging artists art fair in Detroit: the Mint Virtual Art Fair. Buy work from seven current artists and alumni, or from Mint itself. Choose art for yourself, your dad or the new graduate. Decorate your office or your home while you support creative youth who are eager to sell art and pay for college.
The Mint Virtual Art Fair will be live streamed on the Mint Facebook page – see the pinned post that says Virtual Art Fair near the top of our posts. Or go to Mint’s YouTube and the event will show up under Videos and Live Stream. (You may have to pull down or search for it on YouTube
. It’s easier to find on Facebook.) Please join us at 11 am this Saturday.
Preview and purchasethe artists’ work in the Mint Shop. Artists receive 80 percent of the purchase price, and Mint keeps 20 percent, among the lowest commissions around. The art will be available through Friday night, June 12, though most are one-of-a-kind pieces so when they are purchased, they are gone.
We will share a videotaped version of the Virtual Art Fair afterward, but we hope to see you Saturday morning.
Some weeks fly by and at the end of them, we wonder why we never took time to sketch, to paint, to write or edit a poem. Tests and college admissions essays, volunteer work and family commitments distract us from our creative work.
Bosses ask us to work an extra day on the weekend, the day we intended to dig in and start creating. Yet we want to be artists and we long to create art.
So Mint Artists Guild wants to help you start to achieve your goals – they are written goals, right? – by sharing some time management techniques. Here’s five:
Create time blocks for creative projects. Set up your creative routine around a regular time to work. This could be an hour a day, first thing in the morning, or four hours each Saturday. It could be Friday evenings, as long as you are comfortable missing out on dates, art openings and more. Choose a time when your creative energies are strong, though there is scientific research that shows you can be very creative during non-peak times and when you’re tired. Create a must-create habit on specific days and times. “Attend to it everyday—the results are worth the effort,” wrote Sarah Rauch in a Tiny Buddha post.
Make work-in-progress visible. Leave the paints and brushes in plain view or the uncut leather and tools to work it sitting on a side table. Having them right there will make it easy to resume creating. “When you walk into your space, they should be staring you down,” wrote Jeffrey Silverstein in The Creative Independent’s tips-packed piece on balancing full-time jobs with creative work. Silverstein is a teacher, musician and writer.
Create a good neurochemical balance. This means creating when your serotonin and dopamine are high. Reduce your stress levels with a quick meditation and eat some protein and healthy foods just before you start working – and your creativity may soar.
Develop real deadlines. Deadlines can help focus your mind and your attention. And deadlines that matter work even better. So when your work is due to be hung in a gallery show on Friday, you must have it finished and delivered before then. If you promised a collector they could pick up a piece on Sunday, you want it finished and ready to be wrapped up a day or two before then. For Mint Artists, deadlines exist for the Youth Art Fair in Northville, our Abuela, Grandma, Bibi intergenerational show with Hannan Center and the Palmer Park Art Fair in Detroit.
Use your time well. We all get the same 24 hours a day, so how much time do you spend on social media or watching Stranger Things or other Netflix shows? Oil painter Chelsea Lang writes of training herself to be a morning person so her art comes first (before her day job). She also evaluated which activities distract from art-making without giving her leisure time joy. Yes, this means cutting out marginal activities to make time and energy for your creative work.
Our silent auction features certainly work by well established artists including Anthony Brass, Donald Calloway, jeweler Jody Mitchell, Michael Willenborg, Ron Scarbough (donated by David and Linda Whitaker) and photographer Bill Sanders (donated by Vickie Elmer and Mark Loeb). We will share some of their work in a future post or on Facebook.
Guests also will find pieces created by Mint Artists who sold work with us and who worked for us in our Creative Summer Jobs program, including this lovely piece painted over the summer by Bryan Wilson:
We will offer limited edition prints hand printed on rice paper and some other pieces. Buy your ticket now if you want to see them all.
Mint also will recognize Mint alumni Damon FirstBorn Chamblis, who worked for Mint for two summers and is gaining a reputation as an artist who shows up at a wide variety of galleries, one-day art events and fairs. He was part of the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club tent at the Palmer Park Art Fair, after being in the Mint tent there for two years. Here is Damon at a Mint gallery show in 2018:
Damon Chamblis graduated from Henry Ford Academy and dove into art and music making, with support from Mint, his grandmother and others. He is active in the Detroit arts scene and believes in Mint.
Artist Maisha Rahman, who was in the same first Learn and Earn cohort as Damon, decided to study graphic design at Wayne State University. She is a freelance designer as she finishes her bachelor’s degree. She agreed to donate the painting at the top of this post based on her gratitude for Mint’s guidance.
Mint helped both Damon and Maisha develop business skills and confidence. Open the doors for more young artists to grow with Mint by buying your Mint Masterpieces tickets today. And then be sure to bid on this adorable piece that Damon FirstBorn created while working for Mint Artists Guild:
We bring two groups of Mint Artists to Belle Isle Art Fair – the Learn and Earn artists who show and sell their work and those in our Creative Summer Jobs program, who help the organizer with tasks such as arts and crafts or bringing artists snacks or breaks.
This fair is held near Scott Fountain, and it features more than 100 artists from 20 states.
Hours are Saturday, Aug. 3, 10-7, and Sunday, Aug. 4 from 11-5 (though it sometimes stays open until 6 if there are crowds)