By: YLan Nguyen, MD Middle School Coordinator
Photos Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
AALEAD Maryland ended its five-week summer program with exhibition walks and presentations. Youth were split into five “houses” or teams for the entire program. In these groups, youth participated in meaningful team-building activities and worked on their final art exhibition project.
Each house created an exhibit that told their collective stories focusing on cross-community relations, different issues that affected youth and their families, the identities that make up youth’s whole self, and their position in the world. All exhibitions brought to light difficult truths, inspired critical dialogue, and highlighted successes and achievements.
Through the process of creating, forming, and building their exhibitions, youth put their creativity to use. Each exhibition was unique and truly highlighted the individual voices as well as the collective story of each house. To learn more about the youth’s exhibitions, keep reading!
House 1: To Be Continued
Exhibit Name: So Aesthetic
Theme: Our collection’s overall theme is family. Our collection has multiple pieces combined together to create a whole new exhibit. This represents the unity of a family. The artist themselves created a family during this process. We were inspired to make this when we heard how each of our families were similar yet different. This exhibit dives into the depth of the artists’ families and their meanings. This exhibit was created to show others that family isn’t always perfect, there’s always a deeper story.
House 2: Full House
Exhibit Name: Infinite Paths to Success
Theme: The group centered its focus on challenges and paths to success in four different aspects: societal perception, parental expectation, language difficulties, and cultural assimilation. All of these art pieces in a way reflects the challenges these youthful artists attempted to overcome and their expectations to find a successful endpoint.
House 3: Holy Chickens
Exhibit Name: Finding the Light
Theme: The theme of the collection is overcoming challenges to find inner strength. The inspiration for the pieces was everyone’s story from the group. The artists listed the many challenges they had when they were younger- but in the end they found strength doing what they love, and hanging out with those who support them. The main goal of this exhibit is to convey that even when you are drowning, you can find light again.
House 4: Dendelions
Exhibit Name: Memories of Kin
Theme: As a group, we all agreed that the people around us have had a big influence on us. For some of us, it might have been a “Hi” from someone that made us feel comfortable or a big trip that changed our whole lives. While talking as a group, we shared our similarities about friends and families. Each of us worked on different pieces for the collection which resulted in a family-like bond. Each piece of art reflects an important aspect of how people have affected us in various, numerous ways. The important people range from family, which could prove as role models, or friends that help define who we are. Our characteristics and personalities are inevitably dependent on the people around us, and each memorable moment with them changes us, for the better or worse.
House 5: Dozen Dumplings
Exhibit Name: The Journey of Love
Theme: This collection was established based on the theme of moving and family. As a collaborative team, every single member contributed immensely throughout the process and we came to a consensus on the topic of the exhibit after reviewing each individual’s autobiography, which allowed us to discover many similarities. During our discussion, we shared about important moments of our lives and people that have a remarkable influence on us. All of the members in the group have experienced moving, including immigration, residing in a new state, and transferring to a new school.