May 5, 2021 Danielle Waters, Spring 2021 Exhibition & Performance DM Graduate Student Grantee
Youth Activist Art Archive (YAAA)
Danielle lives downtown in Salt Lake City with her son and their home is full of plants. She is an artist, photographer, teacher, and advocate for the arts. Danielle has a Bachelor of Art in Photography and is currently in the Master of Arts in Teaching – Fine Arts program at the University of Utah. Her focus of study is teaching mindful photography practices as a tool for well-being.
Briefly describe your project and the challenges, lessons learned, and obstacles overcome in the execution of it. What were the professional, academic, and personal motivations underlying your project?
The Youth Activist Art Archive (YAAA) is an open-access online tool that showcases a database of youth activist art of varying social issues, resources for making and facilitating art activism projects, and current academic research and events. The goal of this project is to create new and needed resources for young artists and adult facilitators and teachers who are interested in making art for social change.
There have been significant changes in education in the last few years, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and there is a need for online accessible tools to reach young people. This project is created to reach a broad audience and is built as a sustainable long-term project intended to support and inspire young artists and art projects worldwide. As a community-based teaching artist, both my students and I are continually drawn to exploring important global and local social issues within our artistic works. One of the major motivations for creating YAAA is that there currently is limited digital information to be found about the intersection of youth-created art and social change, although youth engagement with art activism is on the rise around the world.
For this project, I designed and created an interactive website, researched and compiled a list of social change projects around the globe in which young artists are creating works about varying social issues, and created a streamlined archive submission process. One of the challenges was navigating legal permissions, as the YAAA project specifically recognizes young artists (26 years and younger), and many are minors. I spent a fair amount of time researching best practices and creating the required submission documents, with special permissions for artists under 18 years old.
How did the Digital Matters Faculty Grant dovetail with your academic pursuits? What interested you in applying for this grant?
What interested me about Digital Matters and initially drew me in to apply for the grant was the theme of sustainability, which fits into my academic pursuits of creating educational materials and experiences that are accessible to the wider public. A crucial aspect of the YAAA project is focused on accessibility, as an online educational resource that is open to all. The archive is built as a living digital tool that will constantly be updated with new submissions.
What insights have you gained in regard to your specific field as a result of your project and grant experience?
The Youth Activist Art Archive is created through the digital exhibit tool OmekaS. Before this project, I have had little experience in digital library services. I have appreciated getting to scratch the surface on the field of best practices for web archiving policies and records management.
The archive has been a large collaborative success due to many people and a lot of hard work outside of my own. Digital Matters, The Marriott Library, and The Art and Art History faculty were all crucial parts that came together to create and host the archive website and database. The interdisciplinary and collaborative aspects of the project and working as a part of a supportive team has been some of the best highlights of the grant experience.
What would you tell potential faculty grant applicants to help them shape their own digital scholarship project?
I found inspiration in the interdisciplinary collaboration and connection of various departments coming together in digital scholarship, and all within the theme of sustainability. There are many different fields of academic studies within Digital Matters, and there is a lot of room for a variety of unique digital projects.
What do you see as the upcoming important issues surrounding digital scholarship in your field? What areas/issues could students and scholars investigate to extend the knowledge in this area?
In the field of arts education, there is a need for more open-access online tools and many teachers want to know how to effectively integrate more digital research resources and methodologies in the classroom. Especially with the changes in education trending in a more digital direction since Covid-19, I foresee this being a continually important issue. Along these lines, I also think the issues of digital scholarship education in regards to social-emotional learning and the relationship of technology and well-being are crucial areas where more academic research will continue to be a needed focus for our societies. Social change and the field of digital scholarship is another area worth investigating. I have found meaningful research at the intersection of technology, art, activism, politics, and the efforts of striving to learn and grow both individually and collectively.
Social change and the field of digital scholarship is another area worth investigating. I have found meaningful research at the intersection of technology, art, activism, politics, and the efforts of striving to learn and grow both individually and collectively.–Danielle Waters, Spring 2021 Exhibition & Performance DM Graduate Student Grantee