Youth Peer Mentors

The Mentoring Young Artists program provides aspiring artists with hands-on experience facilitating creative engagements within a contemporary art space and mentorship participation in an informal learning environment designed for youth (ages 5 and up) and their families. As part of their experiential learning, Peer Mentors gain exposure to the local artist community by attending art events, such as gallery openings, open mics, and artist talks. This program offers opportunities to build professional skills and relationships with experienced artists, educators, and staff members while supporting our goal to increase access to the arts for young people living in and around North Omaha.

Meet Brielynn

My name is Brielynn and I am a returning peer mentor at The Union for Contemporary Art.

I have participated in the Mentoring Young Artists program since Fall 2022. I first discovered my joy working with youth through babysitting for family members and helping out at a daycare. By showing my passion for all art forms, I hope to foster a growth focused environment for youth to grow and learn more about the expanding world of artistic expression.

I am influenced by social media, photos, memes, videos, and the work of other artists. I like to utilize my imagination when working on projects, allowing myself to explore different art styles; some of my favorites are abstract, geometric, pop, and surrealism, among others.

I love to experiment with different art mediums and various art techniques. My current focus is digital art, pottery, and painting. Through my art, I explore monster culture, human nature, identity, and other themes.

Creating art is expressing random thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and using your imagination to make "Your Art-Masterpiece".

During my time at The Union, I hope to create stepping stones for youth to build connections with themselves as well as others around them. I hope to maintain a positive space for the youth and through art I aim to encourage youth to find their own values and their voice.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? Why?

My favorite animal is a chamlean, it can be interpreted in many ways, since it blends in well and does not draw attention to itself. They also change colour due to a number of different factors, mood, changes in light or temperature.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Why?

I would be a two sided crayon, one side is Inky black and the other half would be Canary yellow. Colours can be interpret in many ways, to me I belive black symbolic mystery, power, elegance, night, emotional safety, etc. Yellow symbolic to happiness, curiousity, originality, creativity, confidence, caution, etc.

What is your favorite quote or motto?

"You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true-anyone can cook...but only the fearless can be great." -Gusteau from Ratatouille

Portraits Of Youth Peer Mentor Brielynn
Meet Gabby

My name is Gabby and I am a first time peer mentor at The Union for Contemporary Art.

I have always found joy when working with youth. Most of my experience with youth has come from working with them at the zoo, where I usually show kids biofacts (animal pelts, skulls, etc.) and teach them a fact or two about that animal. It's always entertaining to see them smile and their eyes brighten when seeing something cool like that.

I appreciate art as I love how you can express yourself through the pieces you make. Either 2D or 3D, large or small, I feel like I can always find happiness and appreciation for what I create.

I am usually driven to make 3D pieces, usually with ceramics, as I find them insanely entertaining to look at. There's multiple places for your eyes to look, an ultimate array of surfaces and corners for your pupils to value.

I see art as expression and release, but also a way of growing passion. I think in order to build up experience in art, the most important thing you need is a passion to continue, and to never stop improving.

During my time at the Union, I hope to find a deeper understanding for the importance of art in our society and community, that being through aiding youth in their process and creation of pieces.

Instagram: @gabby.zambuto

Who inspires you?

Honestly my family and pets inspire me the most. They help me to learn more about myself every single day and I love them.

If you could be any animal, what would it be? Why?

I would probably be a hamster. Those things live like royalty. They get their own space where everything is provided for them. A wheel for exercise, water, food, and cozy bedding. No worries in the world. I dream to live like a fuzzy little hamster.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Why?

I would be one of those really large jumbo crayons that anyone can remember using in kindergarten, specifically a purple one. Those things would always make huge chunky lines and I remember my kindergarten self adoring them.

Portraits Of Youth Peer Mentor Gabby
Meet Isabella

My name is Isabella and I am a first time peer mentor with The Union for Contemporary Art.

I am currently studying elementary education with a concentration in English as a second language at UNO and plan to work with Omaha Public Schools when I graduate. I'm very passionate about working with young people and I have worked in arts education with many local organizations around Omaha including the Rose Theater and BFF. I want to work as an education director in an arts and advocacy nonprofit someday.

Beyond visual arts, I am also a writer and playwright, so one of the themes I explore with my work is how language shapes our reality. I am interested in surrealism and performance art and incorporate elements of these movements in my art.

I like working with highly-manipulative materials to make 3-D artwork. My favorite media to work with are found-objects, stained glass, and printmaking.

I believe art is a universal language and thus is a powerful tool for creating meaningful dialogue, encouraging critical thinking, and inspiring collaborative efforts towards a more just society.

At the Union, I am looking forward to helping young people explore activism, social justice, and self-reflection through art.

Instagram: @iam_art.04

Who inspires you?

Young people! My younger sister and brother and the students I work with all inspire me. They are so knowledgeable and open-minded and creative, I want to be just like them when I grow up!

If you could be any animal, what would it be? Why?

If I could be an animal I would be a rainbow mantis shrimp because they are extremely powerful creatures and have more than 5 times as many color-receptive cones in their eyes than humans do, so they can see an UNIMAGINABLE amount of colors!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Why?

If I were a crayon, I would be Dandelion Yellow. It's my favorite color and it makes me happy to see.

Portraits Of Youth Peer Mentor Isabella
Meet Jaiden

My name is Jaiden and I am a first time peer mentor at The Union for Contemporary Art.

I began working with youth at Camp Sacajawea as a C.I.T in 2022 and plan to pursue a career teaching art to youth in the future.

I see art as a way to express my emotions without having to use words! It's a useful tool to show your opinions and I often utilize magazine cutouts to put metaphors in my art.

One of the most influential people in my artmaking has been my art teacher, Courtney Mimick. She has been an amazing role model and has helped me improve my art skills with amazing advice and endless support.

During my time at The Union, I hope to gather more experience with working around youth to better prepare myself for the future.

Instagram: @thickerthanoats

Who inspires you? Alex Hirsch!

What is something most people don’t know about you? I cosplay!

What is your favorite quote or motto? “Prepare to eateth thy words!” - Donnatello 2018

Portraits Of Youth Peer Mentor Jaiden
Meet Kimmie

My name is Kimmie and I am a returning peer mentor at The Union for Contemporary Art.

I have participated in the Mentoring Young Artists program since Spring 2022 and I’ve enjoyed it deeply. Working with youth comes in close second to my passion for art. I strive to take on as many opportunities available to me. I have participated in workshops, mural projects, mentoring, and art exhibitions just to name a few. By combining my love for art and appreciation for young minds, I aspire to form connections and have fun while maintaining a safe and creative environment.

As an artist, I love being able to bring others’ ideas to life, use art to express myself and inspire some new thoughts.

My biggest inspiration is others and expression of myself/feelings. I enjoy using paint the most, but no medium is off limits for me.

I see art as a tool for portrayal of thoughts and feelings. I use art to make sense of the people around me, what I’m feeling and to create something that means something to me.

During my time at The Union I hope I can create strong bonds with the youth and I’d love to encourage creativity.

Instagram: @kims.artt

Where is your favorite place in the world? Why?

I love England, I used to live there and I miss it dearly.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I love lifting but I also love crystals :)

What is your favorite quote or motto?

“Amor Fati”- (or “love your fate”) for me this means loving your fate while always using your free will.

Portraits Of Youth Peer Mentor Kimmie
Meet Leah

My name is Leah and I am a returning peer mentor at The Union.

I’ve always loved working with youth and have participated in the Mentoring Young Artists program since Fall 2022. I love everything about it, especially picking up skills that youth teach me. They have so many talents and tricks to share about art, and I can’t wait to learn more this spring!

I feel that my passions greatly inspire my creative energy such as a call for change, social justice, exploring beauty and self love. I also find inspiration in our community by getting away from my work space and exploring urban areas of Omaha, museums and gardens.

My favorite forms of art are collaging/mixed media, working with ceramics and sewing. I enjoy the 3 dimensional aspect of clay and fabric and thinking beyond just a flat surface. But what I’ve been really into lately is collaging my own art together. I usually make newspaper and paint collages, but I’ve started saving old sketches and ‘recycling’ them into a larger image. I also adore creating poetry collages!

I see art as an instrument of creativity. Imagination and self expression are super important to me and so by inventively using our minds, I find it super cool that we create our own masterpieces. I also really vibe with the idea that everyone views art in a different way. I imagine art as a garden, with the seeds sowed by the artist and each viewer taking those seeds and growing them into their own blossoms. By thinking about it this way, any art you’ve created has a whole garden of a diverse group of people’s perceptions and imaginations.

During my time at the Union, I hope to create connections with youth, other peer mentors and working artists and to gain more experience working alongside youth. I also aim to encourage youth to use art to tell THEIR stories.

Who inspires you?

My role models, Marsha P. Johnson, Bridget Minamore and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Where is your favorite place in the world? Why?

Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho! I’ve only been once but when I visited it was one of the most dreamy, breathtaking experiences I’ve had. I totally recommend visiting sometime; it was definitely a core memory.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a fake swiftie :((

Portraits Of Youth Peer Mentor Leah