Megan Wilson  
megawilson@aol.com
Writings > On Target
 

On Target
Through August 26

Generally when adults hear the words “summer youth arts program” the association that comes to mind is that of bright, colorful murals that highlight smiling children, happy flowers, and cultural icons. However, “On Target,” the culminating exhibition of work by youth participating in Southern Exposure's Mission Voices Summer program, is anything but a sweet, rosy vision. Instead the picture painted here is one of grave seriousness. This year's theme is aimed at the sentiment of “youth as deviant” that marks young people as targets of public scrutiny and legislative punishment, particularly Proposition 21. The measure, which passed in March, increases the number of youths in adult court, disables the prudence of judges and corrections professionals to determine appropriate interventions, and allows youths to be liable for crimes committed by others if they are deemed gang members (defined as an informal group of 3 or more people). The creative responses presented here give youth the voice they were denied at the voting booth. In a gesture that points at racial profiling, anonymous black silhouettes are lined up along one wall and tagged with red bull's eyes. Above each figure read the only clues given to the outline of individual identities: type, age, eyes, physical traits, and personality traits. Across the gallery, mug shots of twelve and thirteen year-olds holding placards that pose questions such as “Are you arresting me because of my race?” “Don't you like the clothes I wear?” and “Is it because I'm black?” stare out bleakly and pointedly at the viewer. And upstairs the video “Reel Stories” documents the programs' eight-week exploration into cultural identity, social responsibility and personal expression spliced with interviews of students offering their reactions to the passing of Proposition 21. Mission Voices Summer is a collaborative project between Southern Exposure, Casa de los Jovenes, Horizons Unlimited, and Youth in Action.

Southern Exposure
401 Alabama Street, San Francisco
Tues. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(415) 863-2141 (Megan Wilson)