Clark State Community College’s youth outreach program – Project Jericho – has partnered again with renowned tattoo artist Kat Marie Moya for the “A Mile in My Shoes” Vans project.
“A Mile in My Shoes will bring court-involved youth and juvenile court staff together to work side by side to create personal illustrations on their own pair of white Vans shoes,” explained Lauren Houser, director of Project Jericho. “Led by Columbus-based tattoo artist Kat Moya, this opportunity is unique in that participants will transfer their two-dimensional designs onto three-dimensional objects that they will later lace up and walk in.”
Houser said the intentionality and structure of this program have great potential to build empathy and understanding, foster creativity and strengthen relationships between those who participate.
“We were looking for ways to successfully ‘pair’ probation officers with their probationers,” Jeff Hawes, Project Jericho juvenile detention coordinator. “This project served as an effective symbol for this idea. The project begins with an icebreaker questionnaire that allows both student and PO to ask each other questions that may reveal a different side or common bond that may be overlooked in daily procedural interactions with each other.”
Hawes said they also wanted students and probation officers to have a lasting piece of art that they could not only display but could wear if they chose to do so. At least 10 students will participate in the program this year. The students will be a blend of both released and currently detained students based on a referral from the probation officer.
Hawes said the project allows the students to get to know their PO on a more personal level and allows the students a positive interaction with an authority figure and the realization that these figures truly care about them and their best interests. “We anticipate the program can elevate self-esteem and communication skills,” he said. “I feel the probation officers gain a better understanding of the child and an increase in job efficacy.”
The “A Mile in My Shoes” Vans shoes project is a multi-layered creative outlet as the students are asked to communicate, write, design and illustrate to effectively complete the project.
Kat Marie Moya will serve as the directing artist for the project for the second consecutive year.
“Kat was our first choice as the artist; she not only has familiarity with our kids but an understanding of the importance of permanence as she is a tattoo artist and applying color to the shoes as in tattooing requires preparation and planning before the ink can make contact with the surface,” said Hawes.
Moya said her motivation is simple: to inspire youth to seek a creative outlet. She said doing so gives access to a part of oneself that opens the students up to stretching their creative vision and abilities, giving themselves permission to emote whatever comes up, and however it comes out. Moya said the “A Mile in My Shoes” project is one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
“I was asked by Jeff Hawes, Project Jericho’s coordinator at Clark County’s Juvenile Detention Center, at a time in my life that I really desire mentorship as a way to give back what I myself have been privileged to obtain,” said Moya. “…a path through hardship and internal strife by way of creative enrichment.”
Moya contacted the Vans company directly, and they were able to donate the shoes needed for the project.
“The goal of this project is to connect with youth and inspire an alternative path of self-expression,” said Moya. “The students will wear these shoes upon their release, as a memento of their experience with the project and time in their lives when they were at the facility.”
Moya is currently working with students on the project, and the Vans will be displayed upon completion at the facility in October, and whenever they choose to wear them thereafter.
Vans is an American manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and related apparel based in Santa Ana, California, owned by VF Corporation. The company also sponsors surf, snowboarding, BMX and motocross teams.