Sometimes even the most straight forward arts process with young people can end up saying some pretty remarkable things. In this, his third blog John Johnston discusses the importance of meaningful engagement with young people and the outcomes that may emerge.
The process of making art is often difficult to nail down to one method or one approach. This is no truer than when making an artwork in collaboration with youth workers and young people. In my experience the artwork and the relationships formed during its making, tend to blur into one form of practice. That is why I think it is really important for any artist who enters into a project with an organised youth group to spend as much time as possible building trust and relationships with all those involved. This form of engagement can lead to a number of significant outcomes that go way beyond the art product, particularly if they are made in public.
Art in public can offer an opportunity to share a social or political concern with a broader community. The confidence of young people may grow as they take responsibility for the development and delivery of the project. This inevitably creates new spaces of interaction between young people and the community and can take the form of public performance, a song, a play, a reading or the painting of a mural. All these are vehicles of communication between and across public space and offer the public a different view of young people as active, caring and thought provoking citizens. Such events can create what a friend of mine calls ‘little publics’. Anna Hickey Moody believes these ‘little publics’ can become sites of resistance were the work is used to draw attention to a specific issue be it local, national or global.