Cass Technical High School student Jeimy López is an art achiever, who’s helped the nonprofit Living Arts reach youth in Detroit.
By Arianna Smith
Photography by Boswell Hardwick
The importance of arts education in the city of Detroit has been a hot issue for years. As schools have cut art programs, many organizations have stepped up to protect and spread art education.
Living Arts, a nonprofit founded in 1999, offers artist residencies in schools across Detroit as well as out-of-school artistic programs in Southwest Detroit. The programs aim to increase youth involvement in the arts and develop their artistic skills.
Artistic changemaker Jeimy López takes that mission to heart.
“Being part of Living Arts … has given me a chance to really let go creatively and be in a less structured environment where I can be a teacher and a student, and let my ideas flow,” López says.
The 17-year-old student at Cass Technical High School has been an integral member of Living Arts’ teen visual art open studio called The SPOT since it was piloted in the summer of 2015. Since then, López has been actively involved in all aspects, including participating in the summer Peer Leaders program in 2016.
Zack Bissel, out-of-school arts program manager for Living Arts, says López is a superstar to the program.
“Jeimy is a high achiever who also plays a major statewide leadership role for JROTC,” Bissel says. “In our open studio, Jeimy is a fun, relaxed personality who enjoys taking photos, hanging out with the other students and exploring different types of art forms that catch her interest.”
Through SPOT, López led discussions, demonstrations, documented the classes, built relationships with students and coordinated activities with teaching artists and program managers. She also represented the program across the region at festivals, exhibitions, panels and a conference.
The Detroiter has played an integral role in helping build the program from a pilot to a fully enrolled class with a sense of community among students.
López has also played a large part in helping Living Arts create more youth-led programs by coordinating with the teaching artists and Bissel. This summer, she joined others to design and execute Living Arts’ first teen-led exhibition for The SPOT.
“We are proud that Jeimy has found a home within our program and has grown her capacity for leadership through her time with Living Arts,” Bissel says. “She allows her curiosity and passions to lead her to broaden her horizons as not only an artist but also as a leader and a contributor to the world around her.”
Jeimy is a SEEN 2018 Young Changemaker. Read more about the finalists: