These pieces were first published as a Zine series in collaboration with Free Verse and Youth Homes. They were scrawled, painted, and drawn during the pandemic by teenagers living in therapeutic group homes, jails, and prisons across Montana.
The Zines feature poetry and artwork produced from April 2020 through May 2021 by youth at Youth Homes and students of Free Verse in the Missoula County Juvenile Detention Center, Billings Juvenile Detention Center, Ted Lechner Youth Services Center, and Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility. The series contains a multitude of voices and experiences that reflect on place, home, identity, and experiences of isolation.
For fifty years, Youth Homes has provided safety, a sense of belonging, and a place to call home for children in crisis in Montana. Youth Homes is a non-profit organization that cares for children of all ages who are facing abuse, neglect, emotional trauma, and substance abuse problems. It provides programs and counseling services to support these kids through their healing journey.
Free Verse empowers incarcerated youth across Montana to gain agency over their own narrative and to discover their capacity for creativity, empathy, and engagement in the classroom through lessons in literature and creative writing.
To learn more about Youth Homes and the children and families they serve, please visit youthhomesmt.org or follow them on Facebook @youthhomes.
To read more about Free Verse and engage with more student work, visit their website at www.freeverseproject.org or follow on Facebook at @Freeversewritingproject and Instagram @free_verse_writingproject.
The reception is free for all to attend and will feature light refreshments and Hors d’oeuvres. The gallery will be open for viewing from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information about the exhibition, please contact Gallery Coordinator Nathaniel Freeman at [email protected] or call 406-683-7059.