A crowd gathered in front of Youth House in downtown Vancouver on Thursday evening, shaded by a giant tree’s wingspan.
Some basked in the warm air, while others took in the performance in front of them by Grey Sullivan, who strummed a green, translucent ukulele while singing “Wake me up when September ends,” by Green Day.
On Thursday, Clark County Youth House, a mental health and youth empowerment center, hosted an art show displaying work from local young artists. The pieces include digital art, ceramics, watercolor, acrylic painting, and even musical composition.
For Sullivan, the messages behind the classic pop-rock song strike deeper than nostalgia in their youth. Sullivan’s grandfather, who they were very close with, passed last September.
“Music has helped me get through my past and my grandfather’s death … by being able to connect with songs,” Sullivan, 21, said. “It really helps knowing that you are not alone in what you are feeling.”
As Sullivan finished their performance, some show-goers walked into the greenhouse on the property to wander the hallways analyzing the art tacked to the walls.
The art installations featured themes of resilience, hope, identity, and advocacy.
The show was called “And We Stood Our Ground.” It was named by the participating youth. Each art piece offered a glimpse into the resiliency of young people as they navigated the pandemic, isolation loss and reflected on people and things that have helped them cope and thrive, said Vicki Dahlgren, program director for Youth House.
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services, one in five young people have high levels of anxiety due to the pandemic. But multiple studies show that art is an effective way to relieve stress, depression and anxiety.
At the top of the staircase, River Deprey has a large mural of a woman climbing up a rope and out of a black hole; cherry blossoms sprinkle across the canvas. Deprey’s painting, titled “Escape from the darkness,” represents pulling yourself away from the negative and changing yourself.
“Art has always been somewhere where I can disassociate — just plug in my music and not even realize how much time is passing by,” they said.
This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.