Juxtaposition Arts: Innovative Visual Arts Training for Youth

Dec. 19, 2013

Since 1995, Juxtaposition Arts has offered youth opportunities to engage with the arts. Their approach is to not only support educational experiences for these youth but to help develop their skills as emerging professional artists and active community change agents.

“We believe the integrative problem-solving abilities learned through the hands on creative process of moving from idea, to production, to market are exactly the skills young people need to succeed in school, in work, and in life.” –Juxtaposition Arts

The Visual Arts Literacy Program (V.A.L.T.) is a free after-school program at Juxtaposition Arts that gives youth ages 8–21 a basic education in the visual arts. The program is a prerequisite for apprenticeship opportunities at Juxtaposition Arts in public art, graphic design, environmental design, screen printing, and contemporary art. The organization embraces the idea that hands-on experience with art-making enriches lives and acknowledges that, for many youth in North Minneapolis, employment skills and experience have an enormous positive impact on quality of life.

Juxtaposition Arts addresses both of these needs through paid apprenticeships which offer participants comprehensive, on-the-job training as professional artists. After mastering skills through the V.A.L.T. program, youth artists can apply for JXTALab, where they can access these apprenticeships. JXTALab allows young artists to build their resumes and develop their portfolios, and provides mentoring and support for college applications, job applications, and personal business development. JXTALab apprentices can practice commercial and fine arts in varied disciplines including graphic design, screen printing, environmental design, and contemporary arts. And the organization’s experience-based approach to artist development helps these young artists fully realize their projects from concept to product delivery.

Led by Co-Founders DeAnna and Roger Cummings, and a crew of talented teaching artists and administrators, Juxtaposition Arts has had a huge year. They have recently announced major funding from Surdna and McKnight Foundation, through which Juxtaposition Arts will continue to develop their highly successful programs and also launch GENERATIVE: A Capacity Building campaign for JXTALabs. They were also one of only nine organizations to receive the 2013 Bush Prize for Community Innovation.