WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 29, 2012, 05:55 PM

HEROES AMONG US: Grand Forks Artist Provides Creative Outlet to Troubled Teens

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A local artist has volunteered his time for nearly 10 years, helping to give troubled teens something creative to do.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A local artist has volunteered his time for nearly 10 years, helping to give troubled teens something creative to do.

Adam Kemp owns an art studio in downtown Grand Forks, but once a week the artist makes sure others get the chance to express themselves with paint and a brush.

An artistic journey led Kemp from Essex, England all the way to Grand Forks more than 20 years ago. In the art studio, he uses paints, brushes and different canvasses to express himself.

"Before that I had other places I worked, I worked in people's basements,

I worked out of my truck a lot (before owning You Are Here). I considered the truck a mobile studio, but the studio people can feel relatively safe about visiting I suppose about six years now," Adam said.

Adam's artistic talent was not unnoticed around town and what was meant to be a couple months of volunteer work...

"You know you could even put on there that you enjoy making the fish or whatever," Adam said.

...turned into nearly 10 years of painting his way into the hearts of troubled teens.

"These young people are such a gift," Kemp said.

"He's provided them with such a great outlet and kind of just getting them to talk and communicate through art," Day Report Program Assistant Mary Burd said.

Kemp volunteers his time teaching, painting and building a relationship with teens in the Day Report Program through Lutheran Social Services. The program is for teens ages 14 to 17 who have a history of delinquent offenses and are involved in juvenile court or services.

"It's just seeing how far your creativity can take you," Kemp said.

Pieces of art Adam works on with teens in the Day Report Program don't just stay in the studio, they're donated and displayed all over town for people to see.

Whether it's painting a fish, a word or giving a piece of advice, the artist has not only made a difference in young adult lives, but the people he works with as well.

"It's very important, they need something to focus on. So you get to write on the top too. Adam gives them something that's fun and creative where they can really show maybe their feelings without having to talk about them so much," Burd said.

Adam's journey continues locally, hoping to inspire more people to volunteer their time, giving at risk youth the opportunity to express themselves in many different forms.

"One of the things I'm interested in teaching them is not necessarily how to paint or be an artist but I am teaching them something that maybe they can use later on to work with other people that are maybe in a similar situation. There are volunteers all over the community, what I'm interested in doing is showing people who are younger than me, you know you can volunteer it's not as difficult as you think," Kemp said.

If you are interested in sharing your time and talents with teens in the Day Report Program, you can call Program Director Amy Brooks at 701-772-7577.