Since 1999, the Truck Studio program has been driving more than art supplies. The Truck Studio has grown from a few volunteers and a donated van, to a fleet of four brightly painted vans staffed with a team of artists, art educators, and interns.
The Summer Truck Studio program provides meaningful, drop-in art activities at 18 Milwaukee County Parks and playgrounds, at no cost to youth ages 4 – 14 in Milwaukee’s most under-served neighborhoods. The program begins June 26 and runs for six weeks until August 4 (no program July 4), Monday – Friday, Noon – 3 pm. No pre-registration is required.
John Dargle, Jr., Director of Milwaukee County Parks said, “Through the A.W.E. Truck Studio program in our Parks, youth throughout the community have gained access to the space and materials needed to realize the benefits of connecting nature and art making in a fun, learning environment.”
Julio Cordova, 26, is a graduate of MIAD and grew up in the Walker’s Point neighborhood. This summer, he’s returning to Walker’s Point as a Lead Artist with the Truck Studio program. “It’s a privilege to go back to my neighborhood and work with the kids in the neighborhood that I grew up in,” he said.
During the school year, Cordova works at the same elementary school he attended; he said he’d be excited to see some of the kids from his school at the Parks this summer. “I don’t think I had an opportunity like the Truck Studio program growing up,” he added.
Beyond the six-weeks of programming in the Parks, The Truck Studio program actively engages youth in the arts, arts education, leadership building, and career development.
Sarai Vanleer, 17, a student at Dominican High School has already been working to build a brighter, more just future for herself and others. Vanleer has worked with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s teen program, where she combined art and social justice to bridge meaningful conversations with youth.
“I see art as a language, as a way to communicate and a creative piece to tell stories,” she said. This is her first year with the Truck Studio as part of the MPS Arts Internship program.
The vans are filled with plenty of opportunities to share stories. A team of artists lead an activity right on-site, with new themes introduced daily. Projects often utilize books as inspiration and resources. Youth learn about art history, famous artistic styles, basic visual art elements and principles through hands-on learning. Projects are designed to be open-ended allowing youth to express their own ideas and use their imagination, they are encouraged to take their creations home.