Teen Art Exchange highlights young creatives

Kingston-to-Scottsdale program runs for third year

Featured art comes in several different styles.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

The Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning’s Teen Art Exchange is back this fall. Desert Perspectives once again has Kingston teenagers sending their art to be displayed in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Since debuting in 2019, this exciting exchange program provides an opportunity for artistic teens to have their best work showcased and sold for charity.

In an interview with The Journal, Coordinator Karen Peperkorn explained how Kingston’s fruitful “sister city” relationship with Scottsdale is helping inspire young artists.

“[Sister cities] means that they have a similar demographic of people, and similar goals in their arts communities,” she said. “Kingston and Scottsdale have a lot of commonalities. They’re trying to support each other in their endeavours.”

When Kingston teens—predominantly aged 14 to 18—enter their art into the exchange, it goes on to be displayed in the Scottsdale Public Library Mustang Branch. Art from the Scottsdale students sent to Kingston goes on display in the Tett Centre.

The only limitation placed on the art is it must be family-friendly. There’s no central theme or requirement to use a specific medium. The many art pieces featured range from paintings to graphic design products.

Peperkorn said, however, that out of respect for creators the art pieces shipped across borders are high-quality replications of the original work.

“Everybody’s art is really personal to them,” she said.

“[We] don’t just take somebody’s art that they sweated 20 hours over so they can never see it again. The kids keep their original artwork.”

The end goal of the exchange is to showcase and sell the prints. 

“We sell off their prints to help fundraise for our schools, and they sell off our prints to help fundraise for their schools,” Peperkorn said.

“We’re co-fundraising with each other.”

In Kingston, the exchange initially involved a partnership with the Limestone school board and its students. Moving forward, the program is going city-wide.

“It’s a wonderful, incredible expression of kids. Most people don’t even realize how much brilliance comes from teenagers—Mozart wrote his best symphony when he was six years old.”

Peperkorn is excited about the possibilities. She believes programs like the Teen Art Exchange are essential in showcasing the creativity of local youth.

“You don’t have to be a well-educated arts person to have a gift,” she said.

“The art really shows the inspiration and the vitality of these young people. They’re still going to go on to greater heights, but at the tender age of 14 to 18, they’re so pure and honest in their expression.”

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