Twenty years ago, visual artist Jana Napoli began working with Rabouin High School's commercial art teacher Madeleine Neske to create YA/YA: Young Aspirations/Young Artists. Together and with others, they created an art program grounded in the belief that, given the proper tools and a fertile environment, young people can do extraordinary things.
YA/YA provides its students with rich opportunities and supports, and it also puts them in situations in which they learn essential life skills: discipline, self-esteem, collaboration and problem solving.
YA/YAs not only hone their artistic abilities in the program, they also have opportunities to travel, learn entrepreneurial skills and earn an income as artists. Over the course of YA/YA's two decades of working with New Orleans youth, their students have gone on to lead successful lives in the arts and in a host of other professions.
To celebrate their 20-year anniversary, YA/YA has several exhibitions in New Orleans. The works of five YA/YAs, including the much-acclaimed "Floodwall," a collaborative installation by Jana Napoli and Rondell Crier, is currently on exhibit at On Piety, located at 617 Piety Street. For more information, go to www.onpiety.com or the Young Aspirations/Young Artists website.
You can also see a retrospective of YaYa’s chairs — one of the organization's touchstone mediums — at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art Annex, located at 1000 St. Charles Avenue, through December 31. The exhibit is open from Wednesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.