RYSE Press Release for Exhibit: “Not All Backpacks Carry the Same Weight”

May 25, 2023
Child looks up at a wall where several art backpacks are on display.

Not All Backpacks Carry the Same Weight

RYSE Youth and Moanalua High School Collaborate on New Art Exhibit at the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum

Kailua, HI – May 2, 2023 Residential Youth Services and Empowerment (RYSE) and Moanalua High School are proud to unveil a thought-provoking art exhibit titled “Not All Backpacks Carry the Same Weight,” which features curated backpacks redesigned by homeless youth and Moanalua High School’s English Honors classes.

The art exhibit, which opened on May 6, 2023, was led by international artist Fatiha Kheddaoui and assisted by her friend, Dominique Meyer Gere. The installation features 60 backpacks that have been transformed into works of art showcasing the creativity and resilience of the young artists they represent, including those that have experienced homelessness. The impactful exhibit sheds light on the urgent issue of youth homelessness in our community.

“Not All Backpacks Carry the Same Weight” installation is the result of a collaborative effort between RYSE youth and Moanalua High School students from Mr. Kalma’s English Honors classes. “The students and youth worked independently, but simultaneously, on the designs and creative implementation of each backpack. Through creativity, we discussed and explored the stigmas of homelessness and its impact on young people,” said Kheddaoui. “By creating more visibility of our youth in art institutions, we invite people to see them as part of the community.”

Filled with symbolism, ranging from written expressions, vibrant colors and intricate adornments, every backpack tells a powerful story representing the individual artist’s personal journey, struggles and dreams. Each creative work provides a visually captivating and emotionally resonant experience for visitors. “We are honored to be a part of this innovative and public display that brings together art and social awareness,” said Carla Houser, Executive Director of RYSE. “We hope that this installation will raise awareness and inspire action to directly address youth homelessness in our community.”

The “Not All Backpacks Carry the Same Weight” exhibit will be on display for a limited time at the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum now through May 12 [the exhibit has been extended to Monday, June 5, 2023]. Admission to the museum is free.

About RYSE

Residential Youth Support & Empowerment (RYSE) is a non-profit organization founded in 2018 that services opportunity youth in Hawaii, through empowerment and personalized support. Youth, ages 14-24, are welcome for drop-in services from 8am – 8pm at the access center, seven days a week, and have access to safe and temporary living spaces specifically designed to address their unique needs.
Beyond shelter, RYSE offers a comprehensive range of services, including counseling and mentoring, education and life skills training, and case management and advocacy. RYSE is dedicated to helping youth overcome challenges, build resilience and achieve their full potential.

Together, we are dedicated to empowering youth, building futures and creating positive change. We envision a community where there is no youth homelessness. For more information, visit rysehawaii.org.

As a 501(c)3, we rely on the generous support of individuals, organizations, businesses, and grants to fund our programs. We are committed to transparency and accountability, ensuring that every donation we receive is maximized for impact.

Media Contact

Jaclyn Hawse
(808) 285-9262
[email protected]

Image: photo of child looking at part of the “Not All Backpacks Carry the Same Weight” exhibit at the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum. Photo credit: LVRG Group/State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

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