As it enlists area youth in understanding and preventing violence in the Greater New Orleans area, the Center for Youth Equity (CYE) at Tulane University will hold its first Youth Art Contest.
The contest will offer a $500 grand prize. The theme is “liberation,” and young artists are asked to create pieces that define that concept from their contemporary perspective.
“Art is a means of expression, especially when words seem inadequate, and we know the young people in our area have much to say,” said Katherine Theall, PhD, CYE co-director and senior director of Tulane’s Violence Prevention Institute. “We hope this youth art contest will reveal some of what being a young person in New Orleans is like. What needs do they have? What are their hopes? And how can we as adults help them access opportunity and achieve their goals?”
The Youth Art Contest is an extension of the youth violence prevention efforts of the Center for Youth Equity, a research hub funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In partnership with community organizations throughout the region, the CYE leverages the infrastructure and network of Tulane’s Violence Prevention Institute to approach youth violence prevention through a multi-disciplinary, equity-focused lens.
“There’s a false narrative in New Orleans, perhaps even nationwide, that young people are prone to trouble, and that they need to be ‘kept off the streets,’” said Samantha Francois, PhD, CYE co-director and executive director of the Violence Prevention Institute. “The truth is that young people, especially Black and African American youth, exist within historically oppressive systems and structures created by adults that limit their access and opportunity.”
Local artists will serve on the judging panel to award a $500 grand prize as well as financial prizes for age groups. Additionally, the artist awarded best in show will have their artwork digitized to become a mural in the reception area of the Violence Prevention Institute within the Tidewater Building at 1440 Canal St.
Beyond the awards, every submission will be included in an in-person gallery exhibition, put on permanent display in the VPI suite, and hosted as digital images on a website.
“Engaging with them through this art contest is just one way the Center for Youth Equity is amplifying youth stories. We hope the adults in our community will learn about their experiences and step up in solidarity,” said Francois, who is also an assistant professor at Tulane University School of Social Work.
The contest is open to young people ages 11 to 21 who reside in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes. The submission deadline is Oct. 31. Artists or their parents or guardians can submit online at violenceprevention.tulane.edu/artcontest or in-person at 1440 Canal Street between 10 am & 4 pm Monday through Friday. School art teachers and youth serving organizations may arrange for group submission pickup by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (504) 434-0383.