From collage to photography to acrylic paint portraits, ArtForce Iowa and RISE AmeriCorps members are showcasing their talents while also lifting up the refugee youth they serve.
ArtForce Iowa’s series of exhibits, “#KNOWJUSTICE”, highlights immigrant and refugee voices and the power of storytelling. In May, #KNOWJUSTICE:The Collective centered on themes of coming together. The virtual exhibit, displaying art by youth, RISE AmeriCorps members and the community, is available here:
In-person exhibits continue on the first Friday of each month, featuring an individual artist’s collection of works. On July 1, RISE AmeriCorps Member December Paw will be showing her art at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines from 5-8 p.m.
At the #KNOWJUSTICE:The Collective exhibit in May, students were invited to see the art they contributed to in workshops with ArtForce Iowa. During workshops at Des Moines Public Schools, artist Johnathan Fusco painted vibrant acrylic portraits of each child. The children then personalized their portraits with writing, drawings and cutting and pasting images that represent themselves. After the exhibit, youth took their portraits home with them as a memento of their time with ArtForce Iowa.
“The biggest thing is the [youth] were able to express themselves with art,” RISE AmeriCorps member Keezeng Lee said. “They’re able to create art in their own way and tell the story they want to tell.”
RISE AmeriCorps Member Na Seul Son said she assists with art workshops at Des Moines Public schools every two days. She witnessed that many students were not comfortable with drawing, but soon became focused on creating art anyways.
“It was great to see them really excited to see the art,” Son said. “It was a really good experience with them, working with art together.”
In addition to highlighting the youth they serve, RISE AmeriCorps members’ art filled much of the remaining space of the exhibit in May. M.B. Moo filmed videos of the event, while other RISE AmeriCorps members and recent alumni, such as Kamaura Kim, December Paw, Na Seul Son, Lana Baccam-Paredes and Ron Moo revealed their pieces.
RISE AmeriCorps Member Na Seul Son’s collages uniquely expresses her experiences. Colors, illustrations and photos are pieced together to reveal her thoughts surrounding learning new things, remembering her childhood, resting at home and more.
RISE AmeriCorps Member Kamaura Kim’s film photographs highlighted the Asian and Pacific Islander community in time for AAPI month. Her display captures the details of traditional women’s attire from the Hmong refugee community and Chinatown in London. An innovative 3D display, created with styrofoam and toothpicks, also juxtaposes photos from her time abroad.
RISE AmeriCorps Member December Paw’s artistic style shines with monochrome tones and curving arrangements of dots and spirals. An acrylic painting depicts Paw’s experience of flying on an airplane for the first time while coming to the United States. The curves of the painting represent the view of the landscape she saw from above.
“Another piece I did was based on growing up and the different stages of life,” Paw said. “And how everything connects together and makes you, you.”