student wording on art piece filled with photograhs.

A student works on the upcoming art exhibit for the Illinois Art Station’s Teen Collective.

Illinois Art Station’s inaugural Teen Collective, whose motto is “Groups of teens making art to make a difference,” will hold an opening reception for its exhibition Living Through Them from 5-7 p.m. July 25, in the Transpace Galleries located in room 115 of the Center for Visual Arts (CVA) on Illinois State University’s campus. This event is free and open to the public.

Teens from Bloomington High School and Bloomington Junior High collaborated to create three intersectional projects within this group show. There are trigger warnings for suicide, hate crime, and mental health.

Finding teens that love to create art and are passionate about social justice issues is one of the main initiatives of the Teen Collective. “I think a lot of younger artists have tons of ideas in their head and some of the more complex ideas stay conceptual,” said Luke Lowers, Teen Collective mentor and curator of the exhibition. “We were able to let them throw any ideas they had out on the table and empower them to bring it into fruition.”

“Social justice is a big problem everywhere, including our town,” said Gemi Palma, Teen Collective artist. “A lot of people can relate to one or more of these groups, so the show is representing a path we’ve taken as teens and also one that others may have been down.”

Exhibit Collaborations:
“Acceptance could’ve prevented this.”
Artists: Alonnah Wallace, Lydia Fisher
Karla Bailey-Smith of Artistic Answers: Mural Supervisor

Mirrored Emotions
“One room, two emotions.”
Artists: Gemi Palma, Asa Lotz,
Janella Punzalan: Art Assistant

June 19th
“Malcom on the outside, Martin on the inside-“
Artists: Jaylyn Haynes, Kaylin Richards

The Center for Visual Arts building is located at 468 W. Beaufort St., Normal, Illinois. Visitor parking is available in the University Street Parking Garage next to the CVA for $1 per hour and will be free after 5:30 p.m.

Teen Collective was started by Illinois Art Station in 2019, and is “for teens by teens.” It started from a collaboration with a local art educator, Monica Estabrook, from Bloomington High School (BHS), where the Teen Collective teens were recruited. “Monica was kind enough to not only let us use her classroom after school, but also supply us with insight into how to help these teens,” said Lowers. “Overall, these kids are rock stars! We spent a lot of time in Monica’s classroom talking about issues they cared about, other artists and what they have done and ways they can create art that serves their community.”

The mission of Illinois Art Station (IAS) is to provide all children, youth, and their families with transformative learning through hands-on experiences in the visual arts. IAS is equally committed to our role in supporting the academic mission of Illinois State University by providing students and faculty with opportunities to pursue learning, scholarship, and civic engagement through the visual arts. Visit or call (309) 438-4444 for more information.