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The 2019 Art Start Portrait Project continues the platform for Milwaukee’s boys and young men of color to portray the complex narratives about their identities, asking the world to see them for how they choose to be seen.  Art Start has collaborated with 18 youth from across Milwaukee to interpret and re-imagine visions of themselves. Through Art Start workshops, in-depth dialogue, interviews and photoshoots, participants explore personal identity and envision their lives beyond circumstance and stereotype. With support from world-class photographers, retouchers, stylists, and oral historians, those visions will come to life through a multimedia gallery exhibition and public campaign, #SeeMeBecause, this fall throughout Milwaukee, offering a platform for self-determination, representation, and freedom.

The Art Start Portrait Project challenges the belief that the future will simply be a continuation of the past, or that stereotypes, statistics, and circumstance determine our youths' existence. We believe that each individual has an autonomous and creative spirit which is inherently healing and liberating. With the freedom to design and re-imagine oneself, the courage to believe, and access to the resources to create, we can profoundly transform how we identify and how we interact with our lives, futures, and each other.

The 2019 Art Start Portrait Project is the eighth iteration of the project, founded in 2013 by New York City’s Art Start. The 2019 participants join a living archive of hundreds of youth and families over six years who, as complex, self-determined people in pursuit of self-discovery, have asked the world to see them because...

“Art Start really helped me to expand my mind. I found a space where I could be comfortable. I was always this person who kept everything in, and now I can actually speak about what I'm going through.”   –Prince Akeem, photographed by Adrien Broom.  Black and white photograph by Natalie Brasington

“Art Start really helped me to expand my mind. I found a space where I could be comfortable. I was always this person who kept everything in, and now I can actually speak about what I'm going through.”

–Prince Akeem, photographed by Adrien Broom.

Black and white photograph by Natalie Brasington

"#SeeMeBecause my mind makes me super human.”    -Raphy, photographed by Mary Ellen Matthews at the Shambalah Meditation Center of New York

"#SeeMeBecause my mind makes me super human.”

-Raphy, photographed by Mary Ellen Matthews at the Shambalah Meditation Center of New York

The Art Start Portrait Project 2019 is presented by Turnaround Arts, with the support of the Black and Latino Male Achievement Department of Milwaukee Public Schools, and RDI Stages with Collura Creative. The project was given additional key support by NYC’s Staple Brands and Schuyler 4 Showroom.

Participating artists on this year's project include Vallen Alexander, Kissenia Chara, Nick Collura, Zachary Maxwell Stertz, Ken Pao, Heidi Gutman, Kat Schleicher, Sara Stathas, Media support by Media Circus’s Rubin Whitmore.

Watch the 2018 Portrait Project video here.


TRAVELING EXHIBITION

The Portrait Project gallery exhibition is available for rent or purchase by Art Start approved gallery spaces, organizations and schools, nationwide.

All fees are tax-deductible and will benefit Art Start’s Homeless Youth Outreach, a program that offers creative arts workshops up to 5-nights per week at NYC homeless shelters to youth 5 to 21-years-old.

Press Contact: johanna@art-start.org / 212-460-0019


Read about The Art Start Family Portrait Project, which has empowered over 70 homeless families through family portraiture, photographed by: Martin SchoellerAndrew EcclesJim Wright, Peter YangEric OgdenDavid Johnson and Natalie Brasington, among many others.