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Award-winning Chicago artist's new exhibit inspired by Tampa kids

Posted at 4:05 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 18:34:44-04

TAMPA, Fla. — An award-winning artist living in Chicago is making his mark on Tampa, highlighting several young artists in the area.

"Tampa is so eclectically, culturally diverse, and it's such a beautiful thing," Maxwell Emcays said.

Emcays traveled from Chicago to Channelside to work on his latest project titled "The Flag Series."

"This exhibit really allows us to really look at and have a personal connection and have an idea of who are these individuals, what [are] their likes and what don't they like and what are their aspirations," he said.

Normally, Emcays works solo. But throughout his creative process, he had the help of more than a dozen kids. They were all personally chosen to work alongside him.

"I feel mostly like I'm being mentored by the kids. They have tons and tons of wisdom and things that they say that really I'm often always picking up on," Emcays said.

Emcays says the exhibit looks at flags as a symbol of the collective but breaks it down into how individuals see themselves represented by it. He says he was impressed by how much art knowledge the children already had and their thought process behind color selection.

"One thing that I did learn is sort of the gender biases associated with visual color, particularly as it pertains to flags," Emcays said. "When I was working on and giving the kids a project and allow them to pick the colors that they represent, you'll see that you don't see a lot of pink or purple or even like a light blue in most flags. A lot of the flags have these really strong, aggressive colors."

The kids were given vouchers to buy supplies to make their masterpieces, and some of them were even painted by Emcays. The large portraits are available for purchase, and a portion of the profit will go to that child's preferred local art program.

"I hope that people that get to check out this exhibit get a more complete sense of Tampa and who is represented from Tampa and the opinions of the youth," he said. "This is their expression. These are their ideas."

You can be the first to see the exhibit at the Glazer Children's Museum this Saturday. They're having an event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can buy tickets here.

The exhibit will stay at the museum until the end of the month. Families can see it for free on July 17, 24 and 31.