The Des Moines Art Center’s Community Access program discovers creative ways of making artworks and art-making accessible to those in our community that otherwise lack this access.
Des Moines Art Center’s Community Access program encompasses multiple elements of creative engagement with our local community. Our first partnership was with Mentor Iowa in the year 2000 and over the last 22 years our impact has grown to include 40 local partner organizations. We contract a diverse group of teaching artists working in various mediums to facilitate classes in the community and at the Des Moines Art Center, as well as organize free youth workshops to take place with artists whose works are currently on view in the museum.
Our objective is to discover creative ways of making artworks and art-making accessible to those in our community that otherwise lack this access due to cultural, economic, environmental, and social barriers. Our teaching artists use a student-centered method, creating a safe, respectful environment where everyone’s art is valued as an outlet for self-expression.
For more information about the Art Center’s Community Access program, use the button below.
The Des Moines Art Center partners with a variety of non-profits, human health organizations, schools, and other community groups to achieve our goals.
Community Access programs are generously supported by:
Fred and Charlotte Hubbell
Community Access presents two exhibitions each year to display work by both youth and adult participants. Artworks below were on view in the Herbert Galleries in the Education Wing of the Art Center during spring 2023.
Des Moines living, award winning, teaching artist, muralist, break dancer, community activist. Studied art, history, and philosophy at DMACC, Iowa State, and Grandview University.
Motto: All Arts, One Movement
Amberly Dal is based in Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated from Johnston High School. She earned a scholarship and attended the Art Institute of Chicago for two summers as part of the early college program for gifted students. As a young artist, Amberly was accepted into the Teen Academy at the Des Moines Art Center and later interned in Studio Arts and Art Education during her senior year of high school. She has been attending classes at the Des Moines Art Center since the age of 9. In 2019, she joined the Des Moines Art Center Community Access Program as a teaching artist. Since then, she has enjoyed working with at risk youth including teaching art at Foster Care programs, the Juvenile Detention Center, the Woodward Academy, Ellipsis, and many other local after school programs within the Des Moines Public School system. She has also had the privilege of teaching at the Children’s Cancer Connections and volunteering at the Des Moines girls/young teens group home. Other than Amberly’s passion for bringing art to children, she has been commissioned to paint several murals for local businesses in central Iowa. Amberly’s long-term ambitions include continuing to bring art alive by teaching both children and adults in partnership with the Des Moines Art Center and pursuing her lifelong goal of becoming an accomplished tattoo artist.
Kolby Friedrichsen is an Iowa born artist and activist currently based in Des Moines. Friedrichsen loves the idea of being an artist that can say “this is the medium I work in,” then says “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that.” Friedrichsen began creating as an artist trying to bond with a maternal figure, stuck inside during quarantine, but like most things in life– that path changed when Friedrichsen felt better as an artist than anything done or been. Friedrichsen says, “if you know me, you know I have at least one of everything stored away in my portfolio. Depending on the day, I’ll feel inspired to start an oil painting, sew a soft sculpture, carve a new linocut stamp, or even decide to storyboard a stop-motion short film. Though being creative is the perfect outlet of expression for myself, I found my purpose in teaching. I am a strong believer that every person in this world needs a creative outlet, and if I can leave a class with the feeling of “I did that” or taking pressure off their mind; letting them create without getting in trouble for a mess, or coloring outside the lines I know it was a great class.” Friedrichsen’s creativity is going into performance art in queer culture, welcoming education, and expression for queer youth. Since 2021, Friedrichsen has been writing a collection of poetry and short stories based around life and the people surrounding it. In the future, Friedrichsen plans to publish and distribute as an independent author. “I hope to someday expand my mind and others, to the idea of what an artist is, because when you look at the world everything you do is made of art,” stated Friedrichsen.
Siriaco “Siricasso” Garcia is based out of Huxley, IA. Doing full time commission work, Garcia has painted several murals across central low in addition to owning a clothing brand that has a strong following in Ames. Garcia says, “I am heavily inspired by my family to create the best work I can and support them with my art. With a hope to inspire as many people as I can with my work and actions, I frequently collaborate with other artists of all different facets to be able to bring art to communities I work in.” This collaboration is best seen through the art events hosted regularly to help other artists get exposure to people they would never have encountered and help foster confidence in their ability to present their work to others. “Past that, art is my love and foundation. I hope to create art for as long as I can and help others find that love themselves,” said Garcia.
Marissa Hernandez is an artist who explores marginalized identities, using shape, color, and portraiture to center Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and placing them in idealistic worlds. She uses murals and social media as tools for accessibility & representation.
Des Moines native, Zakariyah Hill, is a 24-year-old textile artist in her free time. When she is not running her non-profit, The Supply Hive, or working as a Director of Finance and IT, she finds the time to express her creative talents through making rugs. Her small business CallMeFuzzee focuses on the soft and colorful things in life. Her inspiration is made up of all the things she loves in life from pop culture to hip hop culture and all the things in between.
Jackson Meister is a stone sculptor and painter residing in Des Moines, IA. Meister graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA with a BA in Drawing in 2016 and moved to Des Moines shortly after graduating. He has worked in the nonprofit field and as a teaching artist for 7 years and has experience working with diverse populations and age groups; for example, working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system through ArtForce Iowa and with elders in the Nepalese and Bhutanese populations through the Des Moines Art Center’s Community Access program. Meister has been with the Art Center’s Access program since 2019.
Emmett Saah Phillips Jr, raised in Des Moines, IA is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and activist with a passion for community engaged practices. Phillips is most energized by work that revolves around youth development, social justice-based art, and building empathetic and empowered communities. He started an arts education and consultation service called Speak Your Peace, LLC in April 2020 and is currently working with artists, educators, and organizations to build his business and impact more lives through the arts. He also works as an arts educator in the youth department of Oakridge Neighborhood. Phillips is a teaching artist as well that has worked closely with local organizations such as Des Moines Public Schools, Bravo Greater Des Moines and CutltureAll, as well as national organizations like 4-H, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), the United States Department of Arts and Culture USDAC, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Phillips is also deeply committed to developing his craft as a professional performance artist that is most passionate about emceeing, poetry, and acting. He has starred in plays such as A Raisin in the Sun with Pyramid Theatre Company, Holes with Des Moines Playhouse, and Akeelah and the Bee with Des Moines Young Artists Theatre and performed his original brand of Hip Hop and Spoken Word Poetry all over Iowa and across the country.
Jill Wells is a multimedia artist, muralist, advocate, and mentor. Wells has firmly situated herself within art and advocacy work and is best known for her public works investigating race, history, stereotypes, accessibility, and human experiences. Wells’ practice engages with individuals of all abilities, through various mediums, interdisciplinary art workshops, and talks to create new modes of working through the arts that are inclusive and representational. From 2012–15 Wells served as a Substance Use Activities Specialist. In 2015, Wells was certified as a Certified Alcohol and Substance Use Counselor for the state of Iowa. In 2020, she founded Artists X Advocacy Mentorship Program (AXA). In 2021, Wells was the recipient of the Iowa Arts & Culture Resilience Grant. Additionally, in 2021, Wells was a TEDx speaker on The Power of Public Art. In 2022 Wells became the first Harkin Institute Artist Fellow and was the lecturing artist for Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences in East Jerusalem for The Resistance Course on “The Disability Art, Revolution, and Advocacy in the USA.” Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Havelocks, Dublin; the Center of Afrofuturist Studies at Public Space One in Iowa City; as well as the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families and Disability Rights Iowa.