Story by Collene Lewis
On Sept. 7, teens painted their true colors and feelings at Denver Art Society.
Denver Area Youth Services unveiled a mural painted by a group of young women as part of a new art initiative called the smART Project.
Although the music accompanying the event faded, looks of pride and accomplishment filled the faces of the five representatives of the group as they explained their thought process behind the vividly painted mural.
For 30 years, Denver Area Youth Services (DAYS) has provided human service programs to over 1,500 children, youths and families living in Denver.
Programs include substance abuse therapy, foster care, counseling and parenting programs in addition to many others.
A total of 14 girls, dealing with these intense life issues, channeled their emotion and collaborated to bring this work of art, titled “Trials, Tribulations and Triumph,” to life for smART.
Created in March 2012, the smART Project gives young women who deal with intense emotional issues the opportunity to express themselves through art and creativity.
According to Noel d’Albertis, executive director of the smART Project, art is a beneficial way for young women to have an release from certain struggles.
“We wanted them to have a creative outlet,” d’Albertis said. “If we could incorporate a way for them to be active and have a finished product at the end, they would be more fulfilled in the end.”
Judging from the looks on the girls’ faces, a creative outlet is just what they needed.
“They’re just beaming,” d’Albertis said. “That alone is a shift in their behavior and if they can have more of those, that can change the direction that they head in the future.”
The young women in the smART Project Program dedicated several hours every Monday for three months to working on the mural. The girls incorporated the struggles they’ve encountered by painting words significant to them.
Genevieve Martinez, 17, chose to paint the word “strength” and used techniques like blending colors to create a pop-out effect to “escape all of the craziness.” Martinez said that, in the future, she will use painting as a stress reducer, especially because of her positive experience with the smART Project.
The difficulties behind being a teen mom lead Lisa Marie Reyes, 16, to paint the word “unique.” Reyes believes that “every woman has their own unique beauty,” and through art, she was able to exemplify this individuality and speak her mind.
The words on the mural gave the attendees at the smART event a glimpse into these young women’s lives. Katie Lewson, 30, said the mural created a sense of community.
“There’s so many different words to identify people,” Lewson said. “It’s a good way for people to come together and identify similar experiences.”