Kristen Murphy: #Rising Youth exploring relationships through art in Saskatchewan

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a scientist by training, a humanitarian by birth, and a community builder by choice. My diverse education and work experience have provided me with opportunities to develop as both a leader and a problem solver. From researching how climate change affects entire aquatic ecosystems, to operating an e-commerce business that provided food and comfort to marginalized women, I take action to discover where my skills meet the needs of the community.

I currently work at a digital marketing agency. My intention is to co-create a space where everyone is seen, heard, and supported, as partnerships like these provide a unique environment where creativity abounds and innovation arises.

How did you hear about #RisingYouth, and what inspired you to apply?

I work in a co-working space alongside Youth Engagement Activator Jamal Tekleweld, who is truly inspiring. After a conversation with him about my project, I was excited that grant money was available that would enable me to provide my workshop participants with art supplies and with an opportunity to display their artistic creations at an art exhibit.

Can you explain what your project is, how you came up with it, and the purpose of it?

My project is called Broken Relationships: Exploration Through Art & Conversation.

For four months, we met to share stories of loss and heartbreak from relationships that were fractured, or had ended, either through our choosing or someone else’s, whether it was an intimate partner, friend, parent, sibling or child. The workshops were a safe space to share our experiences, without judgement.

We also explored broken relationships through artistic expression. All mediums were accepted: prose, painting, drawing, sewing, knitting, crafting, music, dance, etc. I challenged all participants to think creatively, embrace the abstract, and explore new mediums. Because of the grant I received, I was able to provide workshop participants with supplies for their art projects. The completed creations were then showcased in an art exhibit.

What has the reaction to your project been in your community?

The Broken Relationships Art Exhibit has been met with a lot of enthusiasm and intrigue. At the opening reception of the art exhibit, I was deeply moved to see that the subject matter prompted deep conversations about people’s emotional reactions to the art. Since the show, I’ve had many people who couldn’t attend ask me how they might get involved in upcoming workshops. Even CBC Radio-Canada came to the exhibit to interview me on my inspiration behind the project.

Why do you think it is important for youth to be engaged in community service initiatives like #RisingYouth?

Through serving my community, I have found meaning in my life that has greater depth than anything else I’ve ever experienced. In our modern society, it’s easy to feel isolated from community. We work our jobs, return to our solitary homes, and often lack the sense of belongingness that we so desire, and, I would argue, is necessary for our mental-health and well-being. Fortunately, this isolation is remedied by engaging in community. The community service initiatives that Rising Youth supports infuse energy and innovation into our communities and offer exciting ways for youth to get involved and experience a sense of belonging to something greater than themselves!

If youth are interested in applying for a Rising Youth Community Service Grant but don’t know where to start, where do you suggest they find project ideas?

I suggest looking inwards first and determining what it is that fires you up and gets you excited. What are you interested in? What do you do in your free time? What are the things that you can’t even help but do or create or learn about? Start there. Then look out in to the community to see where your gifts meet the needs of the world. And if you’re wanting someone to bounce ideas off, someone to inspire you, then talk to the awesome staff at TakingIT Global and leverage their knowledge to give your idea some structure.

What have been some of the highs and lows of getting your project off the ground?

This project really came from the heart, so, I was motivated to see it come to life, no matter the highs and lows. I’ll admit, I’ve never put on an art show before and I was a little overwhelmed by the pressure I put on myself to “get it right.” Fortunately, some of the participants where accomplished artists, and were more than willing to offer advice. Every step of the way, I called on my community for input and support, and it all came together quite effortlessly as a result. It was an amazing collaboration and I was able to let go of my fear of failure and know that we were in this together.

Any final advice or suggestions for youth who are considering applying?

Make a plan. Leverage the skills of your Youth Engagement Activator. Be honest and ask for help when you’re feeling the squeeze. It doesn’t have to be hard.

Apply now with your community project:

WWW.RISINGYOUTH.CA