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The arts are a tough business. So is running a nonprofit. In combining the two industries, PlatteForum—an arts education and youth development organization—has managed to find success. So much so that the innovative group is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2018.
“It just shows how important we are to the community, particularly for the youth we serve and the artists we serve,” says Kim McCarty, PlatteForum’s executive director, about the milestone.
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In its arts education programs, PlatteForum matches under-resourced youth (from kindergarten through high school) with professional artists to provide curriculum-based learning and long-term mentoring opportunities. The professionals are artists-in-residence who both work with the youth and use their residencies as a chance to create new pieces. The organization served more than 4,000 individuals last year, McCarty says.
Since moving to its current location inside the Temple (an “artist haven” with affordable studios and an array of creative-minded businesses) in the RiNo Art District in 2015, PlatteForum has upped the quality and number of its exhibitions—often working with Temple’s resident artists. The nonprofit also added an artist lecture series called Temple Tattle, in which Temple artists are paired with a “rabble-rousing change agent” from around town to discuss a specific, social justice-focused topic. “We’ve expanded our reach to local artists more than what it has been in the past,” McCarty says.
That reach encompasses artists like Dylan Scholinski. (The 51-year-old was born Daphne Scholinski and prefers to use the pronoun “they.”) Scholinski has a studio at the Temple where they works on projects such as “Lost Collection” and “One A Day.” Each year for the past eight years, Scholinski has picked a topic (eat an apple a day or meet a stranger, for example) and created a work related to it every single day of that year. The two series often overlap as Scholinski’s interest in found objects and what we throw away are common themes. “One year it was about listening. [I created a] whole soundtrack to a year. Another year I gathered up things that sometimes get stuck to my shoe or the pencil shavings from sharpening pencils for testing one day,” Scholinski says. “Things that people might otherwise discard but that I would recognize and see beauty in.”
On Tuesday night, Scholinski will talk about their passion for found objects and the “Lost Collection” project during “Today’s Trash,” a free Temple Tattle lecture (6:30 p.m. at PlatteForum). “I’ve always picked up things ever since I was a small child—rusty bottle caps, runover cans, a loan leaf that I thought was beautiful. I like to save these things,” says the multimedia artist. “I don’t know if part of this is having experienced in my youth feeling like a throwaway.” Today, Scholinski transforms those so-called throwaway objects into works of art, photographing each item, digitally removing any background noise or distractions, and then creating prints (see photo above). “We can often relate to this idea of not having value, of not feeling valued, so I like finding and celebrating the value in things other people have written off,” they says.
Scholinski will be joined in the discussion by Megan Lane, recycling program administrator for the Solid Waste Management division of Denver’s Department of Public Works.
PlatteForum will conclude its anniversary celebrations next month with the opening of unCANNY, a showcase of works created by ArtLab alums. ArtLab is a paid internship for high schoolers that typically spans two to three years; each cohort includes approximately 15 students. The exhibition, which is also being curated by two recent ArtLab graduates, runs June 5 through 16.