Grantee Spotlight | 2020 Love My Neighbor! Grantee Meshwork Press Helps Wilkinsburg Youth Express Themselves Through Art

Oct 5, 2020

When artist and Meshwork Press founder and co-owner, Haylee Ebersole, applied for a Love My Neighbor! grant in March, she planned to purchase iPads and other materials to hold in-person summer workshops for youth in Wilkinsburg. However, with the need to adapt to COVID-19 safety precautions, she successfully pivoted to a completely virtual youth arts experience this past summer!

The final image after the installation of the Wilkinsburg Youth Project collaborative mural on August 14th.

Haylee Ebersole started Meshwork Press in October 2018 with the goal of creating a space to teach her love of printmaking to kids in her neighborhood. In order to achieve that goal, she began partnering with the Wilkinsburg Youth Project (WYP) and other local youth organizations to teach printing workshops out of her storefront. Haylee applied for a Love My Neighbor! Grant this past Spring in order to enhance her summer youth design workshop with iPads and other new materials; however, COVID-19 required Haylee to think creatively and transition her plans to a totally virtual format.

Instead of in-person workshops, youth from the Wilkinsburg Youth Project (WYP) and the Braddock Youth Project (BYP) collaborated with Meshwork Press on two great art projects – a zine project and new mural in Wilkinsburg!

The zine, called Creative Minds, is a youth-led art publication supported by Meshwork Press that amplifies the voices of the Braddock Youth Project (BYP) and the Wilkinsburg Youth Project (WYP). Since its creation, the group has published two issues that offer reflections on the many challenges of the moment including the COVID-19 crisis, the recent uprisings in response to systematic racism and police brutality against people of color, and the hardships facing our healthcare and education systems. The publication also illustrates personal narratives and histories and proclaims solidarity in the fight for black lives. You can view both issues digitally by clicking each respective link: (issue 1 and issue 2). Stay tuned for even more issues!

The mural in progress.

The mural, creatively led by youth from WYP, is located at the intersection of Mill Street and Franklin and was conceptualized over 5 weeks via weekly zoom meetings between the youth artists and facilitators. Haylee Ebersole and Lisa Simon worked with the youth to teach them about mural design and layout, wheat pasting, and embellishment. Then, they collaboratively decided on a final layout for the mural. The mural’s theme focuses on coming together to work for change in the face of hardship and is made up of each youth artists’ individually created original pieces. Together, the mural tells a story of collective strength and creativity. Read more about the project in the Wilkinsburg Sun bulletin.

With money left over from her Love My Neighbor! grant, Haylee now plans to purchase a printer to print the zines and pass them out to Wilkinsburg residents, plan for future mural projects, and more!

We are so proud of the ways our Love My Neighbor! grantees have overcome obstacles to create amazing community projects! We can’t wait to read more zines from the members of WYP and BYP!

Love My Neighbor!, an initiative founded by Neighborhood Allies, invests in the ingenuity, talent, creativity, and hope in our communities by investing in resident-led projects that aim to improve neighborhoods and engage neighbors. Once a year, residents who live in one of our target communities and are passionate about making a positive change in their neighborhood, can apply for small grants ranging between $500 – $2,500.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA