Local nonprofit Youth Speaks Out's annual art exhibit will return this week, with a grand opening showcasing written, visual and performance art created by Palo Alto teens on Friday, March 24.
Now in its sixth year, Youth Speaks Out partners with Palo Alto and Gunn high schools to give a growing number of students a place to create and express themselves. This year's exhibit will feature pieces from more than 200 students who will, as in past years of the program, use art to answer the question, "What's it like to be me?"
Youth Speaks Out first formed in 2011 in the wake of several teenage deaths by suicide. At the time, teens expressed that they wanted "to engage with committed adults to establish a safe, recurring, artistic venue for youth to create, display and share their artwork, so that the community can witness directly what life is like for them in our town, and better respond," a Youth Speaks Out press release states.
Over the years, the nonprofit has sought to provide arts education and support student wellbeing by offering curriculum, events, bringing in visiting artists, establishing partnerships with external arts and youth organizations and other efforts.
New this year was a partnership with youth wellbeing collaborative Project Safety Net and law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton that allowed Youth Speaks Out to display local youth artwork in the firm's downtown Palo Alto office.
Youth Speaks Out is also working to partner with the Pace Gallery, which recently opened a location in Palo Alto, to provide internships to several students interested in pursuing art as a career.
Youth Speaks Out will also extend its reach beyond March this year to remain in classrooms through the fall.
The March 24 grand opening will take place at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, from 5-7 p.m. There will also be poetry, live music and speeches from students, parents and local officials.
The exhibit itself will be on display at the Art Center through April 16.