Collin Veenstra is a gendergqueer, neurodivergent visual artist and youth educator living in Tacoma, Washington, originally from Boise, Idaho. Collin explores themes like identity, affirmation, mental health, boundaries, identity respect, and consent in their works, with influences equal parts Dad Jokes and Surrealism. Collin’s recent works highlight pop imagery, absurdism, puns, and identity-affirming messages geared toward youth. They hope their work sends some affirmation, solidarity and love to youth navigating their own identities and sparks conversations and education for adults working to support them.
Collin is using this studio residency to focus on a new project for youth – an art activity journal and companion poster series called “Your Brain is a Garden,” which celebrates the uniqueness of each of our minds and outlooks, normalizes mental health, and offers developmentally-appropriate, art-based coping strategies.
Part coloring book, part art journal, this will offer a space for youth to begin exploring these topics during a key age-range for potential onset mental health struggles. “Garden” is intended to be an entry point to support youth parsing through their thoughts, feelings, internal stigmas, and fears.
Collin was a 2017 recipient of the City of Tacoma’s Tacoma Artist Initiative Program, creating their first solo show in 2018, “Stop Chicken Me Out!” Collin has spent the past decade working with youth in interpersonal violence prevention, LGBTQIA youth advocacy, and arts education. Through our pARTner program, Collin also is facilitating an art event with queer youth in Nampa through a new initiative called “Clutch.” In 2019, Collin was awarded the WA State Visionary Voice award by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.