JAYU's iAM program has provides photography and storytelling workshops to youth from underserved communities across Toronto.
Creative Lead, Video Producer (film + edit), Brand Design, Exhibition Design
Video, Photography, Web, Installation, Workshop, Design, Panel Discussion
Since 2015 the iAM program has been providing photography and storytelling workshops to youth from underserved communities. From youth experiencing homelessness, youth refugees from the Middle East, to indigenous youth understanding reconciliation. The program involves days of workshops with artist mentors which then culminates to a gallery event for youth to sell their best work, with all profits going back directly to the youth.
Having been involved with the project since it’s beginnings, I’ve worked with JAYU to help document and promote the program. We’ve learned from past years what works best in bringing people out to gallery events and becoming more aware of causes the program promotes. Overall the challenge has been, how do we generate more sales for the youth? And how do we make audiences more aware of JAYU?
I worked with JAYU founder Gilad Cohen to brainstorm solutions on how to get audiences and the youth excited about the project through film and design.
With the iAM program I’ve been involved with all creative aspects. I have created all sorts of social media content, from videos, photograhpy, and flyers. From creating instagram videos for promotion, I directed a short film on the program in it’s second year which premiered at the 2017 Human Rights Film Festival. In addition to videography work I am the creative lead on all exhibition design and installations. I worked on audio installations utilizing Arduino technology as well as video projection Q&A booths. For each event I provided layout and wall vinyl design.
I have a deep involvement with the program and am currently working with JAYU on turning iAM into a drop-in program for youth to learn more about photography and storytelling.
With the iAM program comes juggling many tasks. I first work with JAYU on a schedule for video roll outs. Normally after every photo walk I put together a video for next day posting, and during this time I compile the best clips from each walk for a longer recap video. At times I’m asked to provide videos for event intros or other showings which is all done in a timely manner. Turn around time with the iAM program must be fast to help our audiences feel as though they are part of the moment. In between videos there are normally design tasks and consultation for the overall brand aesthetic. With exhibition design, it takes at least 2-4 weeks to be ready for opening night collaborating on designs and installations. I will pitch a design and consult the team on installation needs, from there I work on any adjustments asked and deliver in a timely manner for setup.
As someone on the team who is with the group everyday of the program, a major task of mine is to also help mentor youth during photo walks and storytelling sessions.
Each year I provided JAYU with video throughout the duration of the iAM program. From photowalk recaps, event recaps, announcements, and interviews. The videos served as the primary way to get the message out to the audience. I directed, filmed, and edited a short film on the program which premiered in-front of an audience of 600 at the 2017 Human Rights Film Festival in Toronto.
Exhibition designs have evolved with the program. I delivered on designing program exhibitions which involved wall-vinyl designs, programmed audio boxes, iPad apps, and general layout decisions. Designs were all based on creating the right experience for guests to view youth photographs, listen to audio stories, and make purchases. Along with being the creative lead involved with all technical aspects, I recruited a team of helpers, photographers, and developers to bring each exhibition together.
During the duration of the iAM program I also worked on a rebrand of JAYU as an organization. Working with the JAYU team I took the initiative to update all brand material for a modern feel audiences could connect with. This not only helped JAYU as an organization but spread across to the iAM program as well, helping audiences become more aware.
One reason I participate in each year of the iAM program is because I get to meet the youth. Hearing their stories and becoming friends through mentorship on daily photowalks is an experience that is hard to replicate elsewhere. I empathize with getting a chance to learn from others and want to make sure I pass on as much knowledge about storytelling as possible. From working with other artist mentors to each youth group, JAYU has created an experience that is fulfiling for all involved.
The iAM program has been a success for all parties involved. JAYU has created an amazing program that benefits our whole community. With the program I have worked with 40 youth artists, and 3 rotating exhibitions. Exhibitions have been seen at CSI Annex, OCAD, Markham House, and many other spaces. Having the opportunity to work with the youth, meet new artists, create experiences and promote iAM is a privilege. We look to grow the program further in the coming years through a drop-in program.
To learn more about the program and find out how to contribute please visit JAYU.ca