Our Artists


Jobs in the Arts Make Sense (JAMS) is Van Go’s year-round, nationally award winning youth employment program for at-risk 14-18 year olds. JAMS hires teens with one (or more) of the following risk factors: living in poverty, court involvement, a mental health diagnosis, placement in foster care, or having an IEP at school. JAMS teaches job and life skills, while addressing the need for youth to have meaningful, paid, employment opportunities. Using art as the tool, teens are hired for 8-week work sessions. While working with professional teaching artists, participants earn minimum wage to create art objects that are commissioned or sold in our gallery. 

 Learn more here http://www.van-go.org/jams/

 

JAMS 2020 Artists

 

The Arts Train is Van Go’s program for at-risk young adults ages 18-24. Designed to transition disconnected youth into successful adulthood, The Arts Train (TAT) serves young people who have barriers to employment including poverty, lack of a high school diploma, aging out of foster care, teen pregnancy, homelessness, and mental illness. Van Go provides 9 months of onsite job training and 2 months of a supported, offsite internship to help these young adults successfully transition to independence. This population often “falls through the cracks” and The Arts Train is a model for preemptive action, preparing Arts Train participants for a life of successful employment and self-sufficiency. 

 Learn more here http://www.van-go.org/the-arts-train/

 

The Arts Train 2019-2020 Artists

The Arts Train 2020-2021 Artists 

Our Individual Artists

Several artists who have completed JAMS or TAT go on to create even more for Van Go outside of our programs. Meet some of these creators below.

 

Jo Simms, she/her and they/them

Jo Simms

Years at Van Go: 2

What 3 words describe you? determined, observant, innovative

Where do you get your inspiration? I get inspiration from the needs of the people around me. A lot of the art I create has a function or use, everything from kitchen cloths to anxiety-relief bees. It brings me joy to see my art in action, doing what it was created to do rather than just displayed.

What are some things you learned at Van Go? I learned how to work collaboratively with others at Van Go. I typically work alone, and find that it is simply easier for me but when it comes to large-scale projects and the use of different, unfamiliar mediums, it makes it a lot more enjoyable when you can rely on other throughout the process.

Please describe the art/products you created, including details such as the materials you used, artistic processes, or anything else you may want the viewer/buyer to know. These bees started as a random experiment because I had never done any amigurumi or stuffed toy type of project before. I found a pattern and once I had finished the very first one, I could not stop. I made about fifteen before realizing that people may actually want to purchase these for their children or for themselves as a stress-relieving cuddly toy (which is how I use them). I use yarn that is more on the expensive side but having tried different types, it is totally worth it. The large side is a more fuzzy, and silky yarn while the medium size is a baby blanket yarn, which makes it so soft and durable.

Who are your favorite artists? I love Sally Mann's photography, John Everett Millais paintings, and any written works by Neil Gaiman.

Contact Jo for a commission at: mirajsimms@gmail.com

 

Ian Jules Sotomayor, He/Him/His

Ian S 

Years at Van Go: 2

What 3 words describe you? Calm, quiet and patient

Where do you get your inspiration? I find my inspiration through experiences I've had, the world around us and wherever my interest take me.

What are some things you learned at Van Go? Overall I would say I learned how to balance time and effort spent on a project.

Please describe the art/products you created, including details such as the materials you used, artistic processes, or anything else you may want the viewer/buyer to know.

I designed and hand drew 6 black and white designs intended to be used by Van Go for whatever they deemed appealing. I started with some drawings I had done in the past, adding and modifying until I felt they were strong enough. I often begin with pencil then moving to pen and ink. I wanted the viewer to feel a sense of wonder and imagine where the ideas for these pieces came from.

Who are your favorite artists? Shepard Fairey will always be a favorite but my newest interest has been Moebius.

Contact Ian for a commission at: ianj.sotomayor@gmail.com


Cameron Kent, she/her

Cam Kent

Years at Van Go: 2

What 3 words describe you? Creative, adventurous, caring

Where do you get your inspiration? I get my inspiration from everywhere, I observe the world and things around me to find inspiration for my art

What are some things you learned at Van Go? Different ways to be healthier, how to be a good coworker/employee, and new ways to problem solve

Please describe the art/products you created, including details such as the materials you used, artistic processes, or anything else you may want the viewer/buyer to know. For this project I used water color paints and markers. I looked up list of animals to try and draw but then I would add an accessory to that drawing. I wanted to create some art that would make people happy, I want people to smile when they see my work.

Who are your favorite artists? Jeff Koons

Contact Cam for a commission at: Camkent2001@gmail.com

 

Katie Grear, she/her

Katie Greer

Years at Van Go: 2

What 3 words describe you? Kind, craft, cat-lover

Where do you get your inspiration? I want my work to be freindly and playful. I like creating things or creatures that are rounded or that have curving lines. These shapes and figures make me feel nice comfortable because they remind me of my cats Dexter and Iris.

What are some things you learned at Van Go?

I learned printmaking, glasswork, cooking, stamp-making, mosaics, pricing artwork, self-confidence

Please describe the art/products you created, including details such as the materials you used, artistic processes, or anything else you may want the viewer/buyer to know.

I created crochet stuffed animals with needle-felted eyes and facial features. Crochet is similar to knitting except instead of using two needles, you use one hook to turn yarn into a fabric or form. I needle-felt by taking wool-like colored fibers and poking and shaping them into my crochet piece with a special hooked needle until it is solid like felt. I learned both crochet and needle-felting by watching YouTube tutorials. The crochet pattern for the stuffed animals is my own. I sewed fabric face masks. They have an opening in the back so you have the option to put another layer inside for more protection. I sewed them at home with my sewing machine. My favorite part when making them was folding the sides of them to make them pleated. I painted a cooler and a skateboard and helped paint umbrellas.

Who are your favorite artists? Hieronymus Bosch

Contact Katie for a commission at: Kgrear9@gmail.com

 

Brandt Minden, he/him

 

Years at Van Go: 2012-2014, 2019-present

What 3 words describe you? colorful, friendly, stylish

What are some of the things you learned at Van Go? self-confidence building, leadership, artistic skills

Please describe the art/products you created: Cards w/ photos from around Lawrence taken on an iPhone8.

Who are your favorite artists? Georgia O'Keefe, Salvador Dali, Ansel Adams

Contact Brandt for a commission at: Instagram: @mindenphotography