This generation of young people is inspiring in a lot of ways. I’m extremely proud to report that in over three years of working with teenagers in our our studio, I have never once heard a racial slur, or a homophobic remark. It seems that this new generation take for granted that everyone has a place in the world, and that a healthy community is in fact and diverse one.
My only concession in this observation is gender inequality… We are in an important cultural moment in America and the world, struggling to make real gender equality and the studio is no exception. Even at the studio, I wonder about the words we use to describe gender and about our awareness of gender fluidity. Of course, our young people are in the process of discovering who they are, forming their identity, beliefs and opinions. The culture of the studio is overtly inclusive and I hope our young artists become ambassadors of inclusivity in their school and the world.
However, high schools are a reflection of the world and culturally vary greatly. Some of our students may feel very comfortable in their skin at the studio and may be very much in the closet in their high schools. I have heard stories and seen artwork that expresses great anxiety at the alienation, loneliness and even hostility they experience from their peers in school. Not all schools! But unfortunately, many schools. This is why I think festivals like National Coming Out Day are so important and powerful. This saturday Omaha is hosting a festival downtown to celebrate coming out of the closet, in all its varied form. One of our students has made it a point to spread the word about this event and to make sure KBMP is included. Weston and I will have a booth downtown during the festival, to show our support and maybe make some groovy artwork. Here is a face book link to the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/772401679485110/
Come out in support. Take pride in our young people.