Students use billboards to display ads of a different kind

Connecting with community through billboard art

Denver, Colo. - We're all familiar by now with the student walkouts in solidarity against gun violence. It's one way they've united in one voice to try to make a difference.  But some students are using art, and billboards, to send a message of their own.           

For Yoki Ogbai, the overalls she's painting are more than a school project

"Our colors are red and white," Ogbai said. "So a lot of wings a lot of bows glitter all types of crazy.

The overalls are her latest work of art.

"Art for me is like a big sense of release," Ogbai said.

Born in East Africa, she used art as expression when she moved to the U.S and a way for people to see her for who she is.

"A lot of times people don't really try to understand and don't really try to get to know a person before creating their onw ways," Ogbai said.  "Their own idea of who you are."

So when she heard about a contest called the "Healing As One" campaign, she figured it would be an opportunity to inspire thousands to take a look at things in a different way.

"Cause he's kind of taking a picture and was like through the lens," Ogbai said.

That idea grew into a billboard on a busy intersection that reads, "See Me, I Am Denver."

"To be seen is to be acknowledged for everything you are and not for what you're expected to be," Ogbai says.

Ogbai's billboard is just one of several in the Healing As One initiative. The topics are timely. One reads education not deportation. And others, encourage people to have courage and hope.

Albany Reynolds designed the hope billboard.

"For me it's amazing because I've always been someone who wanted to speak out about issues like that," Reynolds said.  "And just bring attention to that."

She placed the word over a picture she took of her classmate Kelly.

"It's giving us leeway to have artistic freedom and to put our ideas out there," Reynolds said. "And to say I want to represent hope and to have that on an actual billboard it's a good opportunity."

In a time with young people across the country speaking out about the issues important to them, this group believes doing that through art can be just as powerful.

"If you look at any big historical changes throughout history art has been a very big part of that," Reynolds said.

"Even though I am just another person using my voice and what I know what I can do I really am able to make some sort of impact in someone’s life," Ogbai said.

Inspiring change through billboards, advertising messages of a different kind.

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