For two weeks prior to the show, YU’s arts group worked on completing a youth-designed mural for UniverSoul Circus, an Atlanta-based circus production that has performed all over the world. UniverSoul Circus requested this collaborative art piece to be prominently displayed by the entrance for their “Your Life Matters Show,” which took place here in Oakland on March 18th.
In total, twenty-two youth artists participated in the design and completion of the mural. The mural featured an elephant, a tiger, circus tents and a clown holding a sign that welcomed guests to “The Town,” as residents affectionately call Oakland. UniverSoul circus was generous enough to provide YU with free tickets for all of the contributing artists as well as discount prices for YU affiliates.
Claire, the staff member who oversaw the design and painting process, commented on how important it was for youth to see their work displayed at the entrance of the circus. These youth had the opportunity to build skills related to teamwork and moving a project to completion as well as engage UniverSoul Circus staff. Claire noted how good it felt to witness her youth enjoy the show and be kids. A couple of our artists had the chance to bring younger siblings or their parents.
YU staff member, Hannah, who helped bring youth to the show shared, “Our young people need to be really tough to survive the systemic injustices so many of them are faced with. Many of our youth have had to grow up too fast. It is so great when our teens get an opportunity to let it all go and just act like a kid and that's definitely what happened at the UniverSoul Circus. The young people were up dancing and laughing and gasping with awe as acrobats and daredevils flew through the air!”
It was fabulous to have a group of young students of color be inspired by professional artists and performers of color from around the world!