Touchstone Honoree: Duluth Art Institute helps inspire young people to take action through art

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Art can inspire action.

Jean Birkenstein lived a long, active life. She was an artistic activist in Chicago.

And she now helps inspire the next generations of artists, through the BAM program at the Duluth Art Institute.

Her son, Robin Washington, is the Board President at the DAI. “The word I use more than anything else, is empowerment. Particularly people of color,” he shared. He now considers it part of his life’s mission to share what she stood for.

BAM stands for Birkenstein Art Movement. A grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation helped them form the program.

One of the artists who helped guide the students was Moira Villiard. “We taught the grid method, and used a grid to create a piece of artwork with one big image at the end,” she explained.

They worked as a team, and created something special. All while learning about each other, and finding a deeper understanding with each dip of the paintbrush.

Villiard added, “It was a really diverse group of kids. So there was some cross-cultural exposure within the group.”

DAI uses their creative collaboration to continue making changes to the program, to keep up with the dynamics of life.

Executive Director Christina Woods shared this. “We wanted to offer 7th graders in our area an opportunity to experience a multitude of artistic practices and go through the creative processes. And actually fail. And understand what that is, and through that lens, we teach them different types of leadership skills.”

The Touchstone Celebration is coming up on Thursday, November 10th, at 6:30pm.