Youth Art Team “all about the kids”


WATERLOO – A group of kids is making a mark all over the Cedar Valley.

They’re currently working on a project sure to draw lots of eyes in downtown Waterloo.

Members of the Youth Art Team, during the program’s first summer camp this week, are putting their brushes to work on panels that will be installed on the refurbished Fourth Street bridge.

The process of creation began Monday with a trip to the river, where the campers gazed at the water and listened to the sounds of nature while sketching everything that came to mind. The next day, they turned those sketches into artworks painted on large panels to be placed on the bridge.

“It was kind of difficult to get your design off the paper onto the board, which made it confusing and interesting at the same time,” Sophie Matlock, 9, said.

Some of the children presented the idea for their project at the City Council meeting Monday night. Londrell Cooper, 13, and another member of the core group stood bravely before the council in order to get the OK.

Since 2010, the group has taken on similar community projects such as painting the Plaid Peacock mural and creating canvas paintings to sell in the community for a fundraiser.

Cooper, who has been a member of the team for two years, said nature is his favorite thing to paint and draw because it is what he finds to be the most beautiful.

“I want people to feel happy and think that Waterloo is a great place to live in,” said 9-year-old Libby Nosbisch.

Nosbisch, along with her sisters Becca and Josie, participated in the camp’s five morning sessions this week. A second camp takes place next week.

Araceli Lopez, 10, decided to come to camp after helping the Youth Art Team and other local art groups with the Urban Intervention project, in which artists constructed and painted wooden butterflies and surprised the community with their work in March 2016.

Jordan Bell, 11, likes painting and working with colors and tools that help him be creative and use his imagination.

The young artists will be the sole creators of the art panels for the bridge. Every brush stroke, line, shape and pattern came from their imagination alone; no adults were involved in the art.

“That’s a major rule for us,” said Heidi Fuchtman, Youth Art Team director. “The transfer of the design can be pretty hard but we just help them do it because we really want the kids to know that it was theirs. It’s a big no-no to ever have a grown-up do something.”

The ideas for the designs also come directly from the students. The camp attendees and team are often encouraged to find inspiration for their artwork by simply taking notice of what’s around them.

“It’s really fun to watch when they just have a little space to be listened to and give their voice to the matter. It’s not really about the art, it’s about the whole experience and meeting people in the community,” Fuchtman said.

The group and camp rely mainly on donations for funding and paint, and donations can be made at Their work can also be seen on their Facebook page.