Posted: February 23, 2011

Minnehaha junior Walker Larson makes art at the Walker Art Center's Wac Attack event in February.

photo by Jeffrey Riley

Walker lets teens ATTACK art

By Jeffrey Riley

Talon Staff Writer

The room is dark yet alive with teenage collaboration. Rows of tables are equipped with everything an artist might need to make a collage and satisfy their creative impulses. Teens alone or in groups bring up their various collages or drawing to artist Jenny Schmid as she projects them on the far wall. These collages then come alive as Schmid turns them into a moving animation.

The event was the first in a three-part series of engaging activities for teenagers called WAC ATTACK.  In this particular event, youth were able to create, with ample supplies, anything they could put on paper, and when finished the drawing was able to be made into a live, moving projection for everyone to see.

Events such as these are created by the Walker Art Center Teen Art Council (WACTAC), an organization that has continued since 1996. The council is made up of 10-14 teenagers, in order to create programs by teens, for teens.

“Having this group makes it so that teens can be at the center of making programs as opposed to other people trying to make programs for them,” said Adriana Rimpel, program manager of teen programs at the Walker Art Center. “It creates opportunities for young artists to connect with contemporary art and support teen artists.”

Being a part of this council is a paid position, and has responsibilities including meeting on a weekly basis, create engaging activities, and connecting teenagers with more prominent artists. The amount of work put in behind the scenes pays off for the kids though. WACTAC members often get to spend more time in depth with an artist and be able to see their process first hand.

The events arranged by the WACTAC aren’t exclusively for experienced artists.

“We try to create programs that become a safe place where teens can ask questions that they might not feel comfortable asking elsewhere,” Rimpel said. Part of the WACTAC’s job is to encourage teens to be “open to new experiences.”

“I take some art classes at my school but haven’t been to anything like [WAC ATTACK] before,” said Sara Stephens, 15. “It gives me ideas for my art.”

Although there will be a minor hiatus on certain activities for young artists due to the changing of program managers, but usually one can expect to see them at the end of the school year and beginning of fall.

Last July, WACTAC arranged Open Exposure, which was a chance for four young musical artists to have a free outdoor concert mixed with certain more established local artists such as Eyedea and Abilities and Tapes n Tapes. The concert brought over 2,000 listeners and put teens on the same stage with nearly famous artists.

“The teens deserve the same respect as any other artist,” Rimpel says.

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