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Artists X Advocacy | Public Art Mentorship Program

“To cultivate an environment in which the creative class thrives through community works of art and community partnerships.”


Jill Wells BFA, CADC

Statement of intent

The intention of A.X.A.: Mentorship Program is to foster clear direction for underserved youth in our community, engender community pride, build wide connections and deep appreciation and representation of cultural identity. A.X.A.: Mentorship Program is in it’s pilot year as an annual community program. A.X.A.: Mentorship Program is led by artist, advocate and mentor, Jill Wells who draws from her experiences as an Artist and Iowa Board Certified Counselor to bring together youth, artists, educators, and community organizations. A.X.A.: Mentorship Program is an investment in a broad community, measured by quality of life and the expression of cultural richness.

Mission + Program

The mission of A.X.A.: Mentorship Program is to ease the academic and social, emotional transition of underserved youth in our community from high school directly into a career in the arts or directly into a first year in college. In A.X.A.: Mentorship Program underserved high school students in our community, who are seeking a career in the arts or in advocacy work, will be connected with emerging and established artists, and other career professionals in our community. Mentee(s) will also be connected to faculty from our partnering university. The program is open to 11th – 12th grade students attending Des Moines public high schools. The six-month mentorship program includes:

  • weekly one-on-one mentor/mentee sessions

  • a series of community engagement workshops

  • mainframe studio visits

  • a series of field trips to community organizations, museums, and galleries

  • a resume/portfolio prep workshop

  • creating an original public work of art/art performance

Mentee(s) gain social and emotional development and readiness, practical experience working with professionals in a variety of artistic and professional disciplines, networking opportunities and community involvement through creating a public work of art/art performance. There is no fee to participate, and all expenses, including a mentee(s) stipend, public artwork supplies, and field trip admissions are paid. Mentee(s) work on average two hours/week and attend their mentorships one time per week, for one hour, with Mentor Jill Wells. This meeting is included in the two hours/week. Due to COVID-19, A.X.A.: Mentorship Program will be conducted: 1) following Federal CDC guidelines 2) via a hybrid schedule 3) some prepared supply kits for the mentee(s), distributed via mail.

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