The Donald E. Long Juvenile Center located in Portland opened up its doors last Wednesday night to unveil Project Hope. The program showcases the artwork by more than 100 of the teenagers currently in detention for committing Measure 11 crimes. The art collective was created by well-known artist Arvie Smith back in 2009 and is funded by Multnomah County’s 2 percent for art program, set aside in the mid-90’s when the Juvenile Justice Center was built. Smith has given these kids a chance to learn about their creativity and how to channel it once outside of confinement. It also gives juveniles a bit of hope during a very dark time in their lives. As Smith said to KPTV.com, “Hope is at the heart of the compositions”.
Project Hope is also part of Intersections, an artist-in-residence program administered by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). Richard Hall spent 19 years working with youth in the detention center. He told Skanner News, “We get all kinds of kids. Some should be here; others, it is their situation that got them here. We form relationships, and it’s hard to see them come back.” Hopefully with an outlet like Project Hope inmates will gain respect for others and break the patterns that have gotten them into trouble in the past.