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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Youth And Teen Social Justice Art Exhibit To Start This Saturday

Yvonne Boose

A Rockford youth summer apprenticeship program has ended and the fruits of the participants’ labor are ready to be revealed.   

SPARK! -- or -- Significant Public Art Apprenticeships in Rockford began back in July. One of the projects includes works that were done at the Nicholas Conservatory.   

Among the themes are social justice artwork and digital journalism skill-building.  An animation video that highlights youth interviews of community participants sharing what Black Lives Matter means to them will be on display.

Mary McNamara Bernsten is the executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council. In the video, she explained her interpretation of the movement. 

“Black Lives Matter is something that -- as a white person -- I don’t have to think about because my life has always felt very safe," she said, "And Black Lives Matter -- to me -- represents the lack of safety and security that Black lives feel.” 

Another participant said, “I think Black Lives Matter to me is more of like needing to spread the word and kind of like make an explosion. I feel like that’s kind of what’s been happening already. Obviously, we’ve had lots of protests.” 

The youth art exhibit starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 and will run through the end of October. It takes place in the conservatory’s lobby. 

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.