White House honors Chicago art program

November 5, 2009 (CHICAGO) The White House has recognized an art education program in Chicago for its work with teens and young adults.

Yollocalli Arts Reach is an out-of-school and after-school arts education program for teens and young adults.

At its facility in Pilsen local artists teach students how to create art.

"We also offer college preparation programs and things like that. Though, mainly, we just want our young artists to know about is that art is a possibility for them in the future," said Vanessa Sanchez, Yollocalli Arts Reach.

"I get new friends here…find new friends here and we have a good time," said Alejandro Jasso, Yollocalli student.

"The learning possibilities are endless at Yollocalli," said Adam Gutierrez, Yollocalli student.

Recently, Yollocalli received the prestigious Coming Up Taller Award in Washington D.C. and $10,000 from Michelle Obama. It was recognized as one of 15 outstanding arts programs in the country.

First Lady Michelle Obama met the 15 award recipients on Wednesday.

One former student attended the award ceremony.

"She gave us…every organization $10,000 and that is amazing. That's going to go towards more art supplies for the children," said Deborah Garcia, former Yollocalli student.

In one class at the program, students learn how collect trash and make it into art.

"It is really integrating art with the community. We're teaching kids how to use recycled products and to be responsible for their consumption and beautify the community at the same time," said Michael Cheatwood, local artist.

"It is a relatively new type of class and it is eco friendly art," said Diana Macias, Yollocalli student.

"This is actually very important especially for the youth right now so they can learn about all these processes and become less wasteful in the future," said Salvador Jimenez, local artist.

Jimenez says what you need to become an artist is time, dedication and passion. The students appear to enjoy learning how to create art out of trash and fun objects. Since 1997 students have created more than 30 murals at locations throughout the city.

"It keeps kids out of the streets, gives them something to do," said Martha Hernandez, Yollocalli student.

Yollocalli means house of heart. It is a youth initiative of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Another local initiative is Young Chicago Authors, a program that encourages self-expression and literacy through creative writing, performance and publication. It was also recognized yesterday in Washington D.C. and given $10,000 to continue teaching youth in Chicago.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.