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!
We are weeks into our “stay home / stay healthy” quarantines and some of us may be going a little stir crazy. Others may feel uninspired or bored.
Yet we need to following our governors’ mandates and stay away from friends, school, clubs and gatherings and coffee shops. We still may partake of parks – and plenty of creative activities at home. For while our patience and peace of mind may be running out, our creativity will continue.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have,” poet Maya Angelou said.
So get started on one or two of this week’s creative ideas for challenging times:
Listen to poetry. Head to Poetry Out Loud and listen to old time and contemporary poems read by actors and poets. Maybe you will head to a park and listen to or read a poem. The site also has some amazing collections of poems, focused on spring and cityscapes. We like the wide array and diversity of poets represented and appreciate the ease of searching for a poem. We wish there were more poems recordings but perhaps with another month of stay at home, stay safe, there will be!
Learn to be happier. Yale University’s most popular class starts this week – and it will introduce anyone to the Science of Wellbeing. “We think we need to change our life circumstances to become happier,” Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor told CNN. Yet it’s often the little things like social connections or gratitude that matter most. Sign up for free on Coursera; it will take about 19 hours to complete.
Be a “two-minute genius.” Artist and writer Danny Gregory‘s book Art Before Breakfast offers oodles of exercises and activities to encourage visual artists to create, sometimes while eating eggs or biscuits. We are savoring his exercises at lunch and dinnertime too, and recommend one the calls “Two-minute genius.” Divide a page in your sketch book into eight or ten or more squares. Then take two minutes “to draw anything you see in one of those squares….It’ll make you want to fill more and more squares every day,” Gregory wrote. He wants us to document our lives, and in these times we should have plenty to sketch.
Work on your portfolio. Start organizing your portfolio – whether you’re applying to colleges or seeking a gallery to represent you or expanding your creative website. Make sure you get outside advice and share some stories behind the art you created. This advice comes from California College for the Arts. And don’t stop at one; you may need a few different portfolios.
Paint imperfectly. Set up your paints and then set the timer for 55 minutes. Create something in an hour, and suspend all your judgment about it. It could be messy and incomplete. It could need another hour to get better. The important thing is getting it going and knowing that it’s only a short time out of your day – but a time without boredom or worry or unhappiness.
We know these are not perfect for everyone. So for more ideas on creative projects for challenging times, check our first posts, which featured writing or drawing your pet, depicting yourself as fruit, learning faceprinting and singing along to ’60s music.