Youth Art Celebration highlights art created by young women

LunART's online exhibition premiers Sunday, March 21 and showcases the work of more than 50 girls.
Natalie Paul

Graphic courtesy of LunART

When 9-year-old Natalie Pauls reached out to LunART with a full-blown, multifaceted plan for a youth arts exhibit, LunART founder and CEO Iva Ugrcic knew she had to make it happen. LunART focuses on empowering women-identifying artists, and Ugrcic had been wanting to implement a youth program for some time.

“When LunART first started, it was just adult women,” Urgcic says, “and I thought, ‘What if LunART could showcase kids art too?’”

In her thoughtful letter, Pauls laid out her proposed exhibit’s theme and format, plus promotional ideas for encouraging other young girls to submit and share their work. Pauls even attached some of her allowance money, affixed with bright green tape, to help get the program started.

Urgcic returned the money to Pauls’ mom, but she was sold. The LunART team began putting together the program and application process, with Augusta Brulla, LunART’s visual arts coordinator, taking the lead. Young women in grades two through 12 were invited to submit a piece that encompassed the idea of family, a theme inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem, “Human Family.” This same poem was the basis of LunART’s annual festival, held last October.

“It was just really amazing how thoughtful they were,” says Brulla. “Nobody said that family is your blood relative, everybody described the characteristics of family, of love and support, and that was something that ran through every submission from every age.”

The artists were also taught how to preserve, photograph and write about their art, skills often only taught through competition experience. There were a total of 53 submissions sent in from Madison to Ecuador, and all works will be showcased online starting at 2 p.m. on March 21. Music from the local Girls Rock Camp will play in the background of the online exhibit.

“This is something that legitimizes you as an artist, to have someone recognize you from a young age,” says Brulla. “And to have that honor and the ability to exhibit work, from here on out, you’re like, ‘I am an artist and I can do this.’ So I think it’s important for confidence for young girls to be recognized and celebrated publicly.”

Brulla and Urgcic are now looking for physical spaces to showcase the Youth Art Exhibit, especially places like hospitals and retirement communities.

“We’re planning on collecting the artworks, framing them and then putting them in places that need love and that sense of connectedness and beauty the most at this time,” says Urgcic, adding that LunART will also provide these locations with a digital version of the exhibit they can use to display on waiting room screens and the like.

Both Urgcic and Brulla were astounded with the responses they got, and say they are beyond excited to share the exhibit with the Madison area on March 21.

“It just gives you so much hope for humanity to see these beautiful statements from young girls,” says Brulla. “It’s very uplifting … every time I look at the artwork, I smile.”

LunART’s fundraising campaign for the month will also be live during the exhibition, honoring notable women in the arts while supporting the organization’s mission.

For Pauls’ part, she is most excited for the reception afterwards, where she and the other young artists will virtually meet one another and celebrate their experience. But, the shimmer of superstar life isn’t half-bad, either.

“I signed an autograph on Tuesday!” she giggles. At 9 years old, she’s still got time to practice perfecting her signature. But as Natalie likes to prove, you’re never too young to get started.

For more details on the Youth Art Exhibit and to view the artworks, visit www.lunartfestival.org.

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