Wayfinders Survival Gear Guide

Artist: Wayfinders Students with Karen Cornelius 
Program: Collaborations, Youth WITH ART
Location: Seven Oaks High School Libraries
Medium: Publication
Date: 2017


Wayfinders students think they may know how to help you get through the teenage experience with art and fashion. Clothing. It keeps us safe and warm, protects our skin, holds memories, and shapes our identity. Clothing can speak to our self-expression, our cultures, our ways of life and what is happening in our world.

Members of the Wayfinders Mentorship program were curious about notions of safety and what that means for students in the program; not just physical safety from harm, but also their sense of safety in their communities, as well as broader social justice issues that might cause people to feel and be unsafe.

To explore these ideas, Wayfinders students chose to work with interdisciplinary artist Karen Cornelius through the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Youth WITH ART community public art program. Over the course of a year, they asked each other a series of questions: How safe do you feel? What have you survived? What have you learned from others? Who do you look up to? How do you see yourself? What do you dream about for the future? Together, they answered these questions by crafting art from old clothing.

They created vests from newspapers, highlighting and blacking out news about current events. They reworked the inside and outside of hoodies to override self-doubt. They interviewed elders and applied their shared wisdom onto coats. They decorated shoes to celebrate their role models. They bleached and dyed bold designs onto pants while sharing their dreams for the future. They gave themselves badges for achievements that would not otherwise be recognized.

The wearable art was then documented and compiled to create the Wayfinders Survival Gear Guide, providing advice on how to survive the teenage experience in Winnipeg. Students organized a fashion show on November 15, 2017 to launch the publication and modelled their creations to a packed house.

Printed copies are available at high school libraries in Seven Oaks and can be viewed at the Wayfinders Program Centre, or
Download the Wayfinders Survival Gear Guide as a PDF now.

CANSTAR Community News, posted November 20, 2017: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/times/How-to-survive-your-teenage-years-458852423.html

Artist Biography

About Wayfinders Manitoba
Based in the Elwick neighbourhood of the Maples, Wayfinders is a mentorship and outreach program that aims to provide that chance to high-school-aged students who might not otherwise get it. They support students in their high school journey and provide the encouragement so many need to graduate and make successful transitions to post-secondary experiences. Dedicated program staff and volunteer mentors help kids build strong self-image, establish goals, explore career and life interests, and learn to give back through community service. They encourage students to achieve their potential, and work tirelessly alongside them to ensure they have the tools they need to make a difference. 

One kid at a time, Wayfinders is leading young people to a future of promise and possibility. https://www.7oaks.org/school/Wayfinders/AboutWayfinders/Pages/default.aspx

About Karen Cornelius
Karen Cornelius is a printmaker and new media artist. She sees her work contributing to an ongoing contemporary dialogue on identity and belonging. She has a BFA from Moor College of Art in Philadelphia and has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. She also has travelled extensively for residencies, exhibitions, collaborative endeavors and art education projects across Canada and around the world.



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