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Young Artists at Work

Inspiring a Vibrant Future


For more than 30 years our programs have inspired thousands of Toledo youth to explore their individuality while working as a team to change their city for the better and to develop more fully into thoughtful and responsible citizens. Our YAAW and Congressional alumni can be found all over Toledo and the world making a difference.


Since 1994, Young Artists at Work (YAAW) has offered paid summer apprenticeships to area teens to learn creative skills and job skills alike and to connect to community through the creation of public art and salable works. Each year more than 40 teens from diverse neighborhoods and communities in and around Toledo come together to find a completely unique summer employment opportunity and access to an experience designed to impact for a lifetime.


Since 1983, in partnership with Congresswoman Kaptur, the Ninth Congressional District Invitational Art Exhibition has offered a fine arts and commercial design experience for area high school teens. The annual reception and awards ceremony is host to hundreds of students, friends, and families from across Ohio's Ninth Congressional District, offering a curated fine arts experience in a professional gallery setting. Cash awards are given, with the first place winner receiving the honor of having their work displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.

Inspiring young artists ensures a greater commitment to creativity and community that has a lifelong impact.

Current Projects

2021 Season Recap

Our 2021 edition of the Young Artists at Work program was a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning. This short video highlights the five major projects that the teams completed.


Finding Our Space

The Young Artists At Work Momentum Festival Mural, "Finding our Space" at the Imagination Station was funded by the City of Toledo (Youth Recreation & Employment American Relief Plan Act (ARPA) designated funding) led by Leah Tumerman and assisted by Timothy Leistner and Olivia Anderson.

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Four Corners Window Project

In partnership with the City of Toledo, the Lucas County Land Bank, and ConnecToledo, one team was tasked with designing over 80 windows for Spitzer, Nasby, and Nicholas buildings on the corners of Madison and Huron. These four corners are the only place in Toledo where the original architecture still stands.

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Main Street Signal Box Wraps

In collaboration with Art in Public Places (APP) one team worked to design signal box wraps for the Main Street Corridor in East Toledo with the theme of "Flora and Fauna." Led by a YAAW alum, Amanda Gargac, and assisted by Maya Ruswinkle, the team walked the corridor and worked to brainstorm ideas of what they wanted to see along the corridor.

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Sun Kissed

The mural “Sun Kissed” is inspired by the cycles of life. This mural portrays a heart-shaped tree in the center, enveloping the sun in its branches. The mural is located at Ottawa Park.

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The Story of YAAW

Led by Young Artists at Work alums Reagan Shull and Melissa Mintz, one team from the 2021 cohort tells the story of the history of YAAW through film. Apprentices interviewed former apprentices and staff of Young Artists at Work to tell the story of the over 20 years of the YAAW program.

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"Uncovering" is the 2021 zine focused on themes of self-discovery.

YAAW Zine: 2021 Edition

YAAW Talk Season 2

2021 Young Artists at Work apprentices and staff sat down to record the second season of their podcast, "YAAW Talk". These three short episodes discuss approaches to normalcy after lockdown and how limited social interaction impacted their art, ways that their art has changed with the times, collaboration, and inspiration.


YAAW 2020

For the first time in its 26 year history, YAAW was remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 40 teens were hired to make art from home and collaborate on projects.



Introspection is a collection of works from teen apprentices interpreting a self-reflective theme. Special thank you to Olivia Anderson, Jessika Letson, Melissa Mintz, Nick Felaris and all contributors.



YAAW TALK explores the issues young artists are dealing with today. Dylan Smith asks apprentices about their experiences. Produced by Alexandra "Sunny" Rohloff. Animated, edited, and mixed by Nick Felaris.


Hear from Apprentices

Zoe Kuehn cut together footage apprentices recorded on various topics. Teens share their thoughts on being isolated, the ongoing civil unrest, and how it has affected their art.


YAAW Alumni

After 25 years of YAAW, there are so many stories to capture. Stay in touch with the Arts Commission to stay in the know about events and opportunities.


Thank you to all of our generous sponsors of the YAAW program.