Scheming And Dreaming: Public Art As Activism, Advocacy and Youth Actualization

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Meet Cover Artist T’onna Clemmons

“Koriand’r’s love for plants and planets developed with each journey she took. She read up on tips and tricks of growing healthy plants and experimented with different methods in her garden. Each day was an adventure of endless learning and discovery.”

  • Excerpt from The Lonely Gardener by T’onna Clemmons- include book cover image in folder 

Much like the character in her recently released books The Lonely Gardener and The Lonely Astronaut, Artist T’onna Clemmons is on a mission to find the true seeds that will grow our souls now and in the future. Raised in Ann Arbor, MI T’onna is clear that it has often been very hard to find mentorship and success as an African American artist in her hometown. And so, she decided she would start to create the kinds of programs and spaces she knows would have helped her find her way and develop her own confidence in her abilities at a young age. “I want to be a success and open doors so that people who look like me will not have to struggle or have as hard of a time as I do/did. I want to be an inspiration to the youth and aspiring artists.” 

From hosting free workshops for young people on the basics of painting, muraling, skateboard design, gallery exhibition and curation, and more to decorating city walls with her own intensely vivid and reflective works, T’onna knows that public art holds power. Through her Youth Art Gallery, she aims to create safe spaces for young artists who come from minoritized communities to gain the skills and knowledge they need to have their work and experiences reflected in the wider artist landscape. Recognizing both the barriers that exist to entry into the art world and that representation matters, T’onna strives to ensure that her perspective as a young black artist who is committed to the next generation provides those under her tutelage with the understanding that art can be for them, by them, and enjoyed by all. 

T’onna invites all young people to join her and her amazing youth members at The Youth Art Gallery which features a welcoming space where young artists can learn, grow, and express themselves and where the creation and curation of their art is accessible, celebrated, and shared. 

Learn more, get involved, and support the work! 

Link to Lonely Gardener here:

Link to more information about the Youth Art Gallery: