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ARTIST X ADVOCACY
In 2020, I founded the Artists X Advocacy Mentorship Program (AXA), an annual paid youth and young adult mentorship program, with initial funding from an Iowa Arts & Culture Resilience grant. The focus of AXA is to bring awareness to art as a career option, especially for individuals living with disabilities. AXA came out of a direct need to cultivate an environment, in Iowa, in which creativity could thrive through community works of art, advocacy work, and community partnerships.
-Jill Wells, 2020
AXA is a multidisciplinary mentorship program founded by International artist Jill Wells in 2020. The program brings together Midwest artists to work in Des Moines, Iowa for 3-6 month. The AXA studio space #447 is located inside Mainframe Studios. Mainframe provides dedicated and common studio spaces, gallery space, event space, catering and creative community. AXA's mission is to support emerging artists through social and emotional support, collaborative exchange and to incite change in the local discourse about what art and advocacy means today.
The three to six-month mentorship program includes two, three month long mentorship slots. Each mentee will receive:
weekly one-on-one mentor/mentee sessions
a series of community engagement workshops, podcasts and interviews
mainframe studio space
a resume/portfolio prep workshop
professional photography headshots
creating an original public work of art
professional network development
practical experience working with professionals in a variety of creative/corporate disciplines
King Yore II | JORDAN WEBER
Yore Jieng's legacy honored in Oakridge through second mural
"AXA was honored to help bring this mural to life for the artist Jordan Weber and the Oakridge community." ~ Jill Wells
Des Moines Register
The Oakridge community is using art to honor the life of Yore Jieng, a neighborhood youth who was killed by a stray bullet in 2016.
The bullet struck Jieng in the head while he was sitting in the passenger seat of a car his sister was driving. Five days later, he died.
Jieng’s case remains open. No one has been arrested in relation to his death.
The new mural will be the second in the Oakridge community to pay tribute to Jieng's life. In 2021, the community worked with local artist Jordan Weber to create a mural to celebrate Jieng's passions and the effect he had on his community.
The second mural is being installed this week on the side of an Oakridge Neighborhood apartment home facing Center Street between 14th and 15th streets, according to neighborhood spokesperson Christine Irvine.
The painting is intended to draw inspiration from the previous one, according to Teree Caldwell Johnson, president of the Oakridge Neighborhood Association. She said the idea for a second mural, which is being installed in partnership with the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, was always in the plan.
Designed by Weber and painted by Jill Wells' AXA Mentorship Program, the new mural's installation is set to take around one week, Irvine said. While the new mural seeks to honor Jieng's legacy, Johnson said the design also works to capture and celebrate the diversity of African cultures represented in the community.
It does so by prominently featuring a wide range of colors and native flowers from different African countries, she said.
Johnson said the mural's blue background is already on display as Wells looks to make Weber's design come to life. As the artwork comes together over the next week, Johnson said she is excited to see responses from the community, particularly youth.
"I'm sure excitement will build as they see it come together over the next few weeks," she said.