In 2009 Artist Educator Mary Tremonte and I received funding for a new youth program titled Power Up. This program would focus on empowering young women in their communities. The goal of Power Up was to form a teen print shop that would create media, mostly silkscreened, for local organizations that deal with women’s health issues. The phrase “Power Up” started to resonate as it appeared in several of Shepard Fairy’s posters and in the exhibition Supply and Demand that was on view at The Warhol at the time. In addition, the phrase was evident in video gaming and in the art of Sister Corita Kent, whose work we had seen in New York City.
We didn’t think much of it at the time, but Power Up would become one of our most successful education programs in terms of cultivating a community of teens that would continue to work with us over several years. In fact, one of those original Power Up girls now works in The Warhol’s education department, while three others work for the museum on an occasional basis. Power Up started with six girls meeting at the museum three nights a week, but it has since been adapted to be a mobile program serving youth in many different communities around Pittsburgh.
In 2011 we partnered with the religious organization Melting Pot Ministries in South Park to provide Power Up programming. Teens there created a print shop to spread positive messages but also created revenue for themselves and their program. Currently, we are back in South Park working with Melting Pot Ministries, and as fate would have it, Power Up by Corita Kent would once again make an appearance, in The Warhol’s current exhibition Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent.
We are working with a group of 15 young people ages 9 to 17 to make prints similar in style and emotion to Corita’s. A portfolio of works with bright colors, multiple layers, and text inspired by religion and popular culture will be created over the course of eight weeks. The students’ artwork will be shared with other partnering organizations and will also be on display at the museum on February 13 during Youth Art Opening, alongside the work of another onsite teen program at The Warhol.
The exhibition Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent is on view through April 19, 2015.