Art Transforms and Empowers

July 11th, 2009

"The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation."

–Pearl S. Buck

Sometimes, however, circumstance leads the young to attempt the impossible in terrible ways- through violence and crime. Strangely, this powerful mural is the result of just such forceful, youthful energy, both good and bad.
The Albuquerque Youth Diagnostic and Detention Center is a teaching facility for very troubled young men and women. They have committed a serious crime, and are on the brink of lengthy incarceration. YDDC is a stepping stone. They are evaluated and given educational challenges and training, They have a chance to learn new skills with which to re-enter the world.
Lin Putnam-Johnson, my friend of many years has been an art educator at YDDC for more than a decade. Over the years she has helped countless youth find inspiration, self esteem and motivation through their artistic abilities. Indeed, many are very talented but have never had the opportunity or tools to learn basic studio skills, much less the encouragement and guidance to follow through on an artistic project.
A great gift Lin gives them is validation and connection to their heritage, as evidenced by this vibrant mural, now installed in the Pera Building in Santa Fe. It was designed and created entirely by students from YDCC, with the guidance of Lin. One of the students who worked intensely on the mural is now going to art school, emerging from the weight of socio-economic pressures to enter into society in a positive way. It's a long road, but he's taken many steps already.
A powerful example of art as a transformative power.

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