Helping artistically talented inner-city youth reach their full potential, YA/YA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists), Inc. provides artistic experiences and opportunities to area teens. Founded in 1988, the YA/YA studio-gallery offers young artists the chance to apprentice with professional artists, create public artworks, design merchandise and serve as cultural ambassadors. The gallery is free and open to the public.
Young artists work in such programs as "Arpentry," a combination of art and carpentry where they design and create furniture and functional artwork. The Inner-City Threads program teaches skills such as screen-printing, pattern design and sewing and the Print YA/YA program focuses on printed materials and digital art. YA/YA believes that given the right tools and fertile environment, motivated young people can do extraordinary things.
Since its inception, thousands of young artists have taken part in YA/YA and some have gone on to study at nationally-competitive colleges such as Parsons School of Design and Savannah College of Art and Design. Students participating in studio workshops put their art for sale in the YA/YA galleries and learn valuable entrepreneurship and leadership skills by managing their own art sales. Young artists can earn income through art sales, commissions through a design and client-based program or by working as an intern. Over the past 20 years, the non-profit organization has received over 1,000 commissioned projects by individuals and local and national companies.
YA/YA has been featured in such media as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fortune, Rolling Stone and MTV's House of Style and has inspired other communities to establish similar programs in Birmingham, Ala., San Antonio, Texas, and Durham, N.C.