Toyota promotes artistic expression in teens

The Neutral Zone, a youth drop-in center outside Detroit in Ann Arbor, Mich., that promotes personal growth of teen-agers through artistic expression, held a grand opening of its newly redone visual arts space this week, showcasing teen art and celebrating their accomplishments with music, dance, interactive art displays and tours.

The project was made possible in part with $20,000 in funding from Toyota and Calty Design Research of Ann Arbor, which also provided design assistance. Calty works with Toyota to design the look of cars like the 2012 Toyota Venza.

Other contributors to the project were EVIEW360, Cornerstone Design Inc., Carpenter Guy, Joe Cruz Electrical, Busy Bee Plumbing, Anderson Paint, Hobbs & Black Architects and Masco Corp, which donated $10,000 to the cause.

The renovation project was a collaboration between teens from Neutral Zone who run the visual arts department and a variety of volunteers from businesses in Washtenaw County, west of Detroit's downriver suburbs.

“The new design offers a super optimized, organized and visually inspiring atmosphere to create in,” said Trevor Stone, Neutral Zone’s visual arts coordinator.

Nearly everything, including things like cabinetry donated by Masco, was given to the teens for free or was discounted, from businesses in Washtenaw County. Mary Jane O’Brien from Carpenter Guy supervised construction. Teens did most of the manual labor.

“The new visual arts studio would not have happened without the support and funding provided by Toyota and Calty,” said John Weiss, executive director of Neutral Zone. “The professional quality of the newly designed space is going to better support the teens in our community as they pursue their interest and passion in art.”

Teens who exhibited art can win scholarships from local galleries (The Gallery Project and Washington Street Gallery) and schools (University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College).

The Neutral Zone provides teens in the Ann Arbor area with an after-school drop-in space, weekend concerts and more than 20 programs in leadership, education, literary arts, music and visual arts.

You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or (248) 747-1550. Or follow him on Twitter @Hawke Fracassa.

Image source: The Neutral Zone

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