Fresh Voices in its 20th year

    In its 20th year, Fresh Voices is a two-week summer digital art workshop at the University of Minnesota Crookston for Latino youth and artists from Crookston, and this summer, the young artists are tackling some timely, serious subject matter.

    Artist Kristine Sorenson leads the workshop. Participants are introduced to camera technique, story planning, aesthetic concepts, and editing. They are presented with artwork from local and national artists that have made significant contributions to Latino identity. Discussions are held regarding project ideas. Members from local community are invited to speak to the group and lots of artwork is created. Fresh Voices participants have the opportunity to create digital photography and video works that will later be presented within their community and the northwest region of Minnesota.

    The work of the past few years has focused more specifically on issues affecting young Latinos within this rural community and have included pieces reflecting cultural identity, education, and family. This summer’s focus is similar, but looks at the current stories making the headlines and digs deeper.

    This summer, Fresh Voices participants are focusing on where they feel safe and where they feel unsafe, or comfortable and uncomfortable. This topic, they said during a recent visit at the U of M Crookston, is spurred by the death last winter of John Torres of East Grand Forks after an incident outside Crooks Club bar in Crookston.

    Some places the Latino youth listed on the white-board that they felt safe include church, at home, at parks, and at Crookston's downtown Mexican restaurant, El Gordito. Places they felt unsafe or uncomfortable include school, the streets, and at the courthouse. They are taking a big step with voicing how they feel to the community and they are doing it with pride.

    Each student is given a video camera or a regular camera to capture images and create art that relates somehow to the camp’s overall focus. The first week is spent getting comfortable with their equipment and brainstorming ideas for what they are going to create. After the first week, they start to create the illustrations they want people to see through the lens.

    Learn more at or contact Sorenson at