New youth-designed mosaic mural unveiled in downtown Ypsilanti
A new mural at 301 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti is the result of a year-long initiative involving contributions from nearly 100 community members.
The mural project was a collaboration between two non-profit organizations based in Ypsi, Youth Arts Alliance (YAA) and Our house. YAA provides artistic opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system, while Our House serves youth transitioning from foster care to independent adulthood.
The mural is done in a mosaic style, one of three art forms the youngsters learned through the year-long program funded by Z generator, an organization that solicits youth input and funds innovative after-school programs. The mural was created during an eight-week workshop in the summer of 2021. A second workshop involved a painted mural at Our House, and a future workshop will focus on two-dimensional art activities.
Heather Martin, founding director of YAA, says the art workshop series is “entirely youth-focused.” She says the idea for the workshops came from young people from YAA and the advisory board of Our House who asked for more artistic opportunities and more opportunities to connect with other young people who love the arts.
The public was invited to the unveiling of the mosaic mural on May 19. A large group gathered to celebrate the work and hear from the different partners. Ypsilanti Mayor Lois Richardson spoke, as did two young artists who helped create the mural. Our House Youth Advisory Board member Michelle Hanke created the design that was chosen for the mural and spoke about it at the unveiling.
“I knew I wanted it to represent everyone, and that’s why I used so many different colors,” says Hanke. She says the mural’s design of interlocking silhouettes is also an allusion to the fact that “two heads are better than one” and how we are all interconnected as a community.
Martin notes that the project was a chance for young people to connect with each other and with adults who could serve as role models. Martin says a young attendee met a YAA board member at a workshop and the two “got along wonderfully”, beginning what Martin says she hopes will be a mentor/mentee relationship for life.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and project manager of On the Ypsilanti field. She joined Concentrate as a news editor in early 2017 and occasionally contributes to other Broadcast Media Group editions. You can reach her at [email protected].
Photos published with the kind authorization of Our House.