WMCAT teen artists partner with X-Rite and Pantone on social justice apparel

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Teen artists from the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology and the social enterprise print shop Ambrose teamed up with X-Rite and Pantone to create apparel that addresses social justice issues in West Michigan and beyond.

Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT) said Kentwood-based X-Rite and Pantone partnered with the Teen Arts + Tech Program at WMCAT and the social enterprise print shop Ambrose at WMCAT to design and print apparel that brings awareness to social justice issues.

The final T-shirt design features a raised fist with words and abbreviations including BLM, unity, LGBTQ, justice, opportunity and more. “We Get Color Rite” is displayed underneath the fist in big, bold, 1970s-style letters.

The shirt is available in three colors and can be purchased on Ambrose’s website. The shirt also will be sold to X-Rite employees and customers through their internal e-commerce site. Proceeds from the “We Get Color Rite” T-shirt will support local teen artists and WMCAT’s mission to provide equitable access to opportunity in West Michigan.

“X-Rite and Pantone have a long history of supporting educational programs in the graphic design community, and this project in partnership with WMCAT aligns with our corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives,” said Jeffrey McKee, CFO of X-Rite. “(WMCAT students) Elijah and Evelyn and their teaching artist perfectly captured the approach and design we were looking for. As a company, we stand side by side with our West Michigan community as we work together to build a future based on equity and justice.”

X-Rite and Pantone sponsored a paid learning experience in which leaders worked virtually alongside two WMCAT high school students who attend Grand Rapids Public Schools. Together with Oscar Neri, WMCAT teaching artist, the students were led through a process that produced several design options. The students presented their ideas directly to leadership at X-Rite and Pantone.

“The main goal for the (fist) symbol on the design was to show unity and support to the Black community while also showing the company cares about the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole,” said Evelyn Lopez Maldonado, WMCAT teen artist and a junior at C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy.

After drafting and feedback, the designs were finalized for print and sent to Ambrose at WMCAT, a custom design and print shop with a social enterprise model that funds WMCAT’s mission.

“When we found out about Ambrose, we were thrilled that WMCAT was a one-stop shop for this project,” McKee said.

Trudy-Ngo Brown, director of arts and technology at WMCAT, said the organization is “committed to providing our students with opportunities to engage in the community.”

“Thankfully, companies like X-Rite and Pantone see the value of young voices in our community and provide them with real-world experiences. By doing so, they are supporting teens as they build their creative confidence,” she said.

Elijah Brown, a WMCAT teen artist and junior at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy, said working on the project gave him “an opportunity to learn about organizations in our community.”

“It taught me that I could create designs and logos for companies, not just myself,” he said. “I’ve gained real-world experience and confidence that I can do new things.”

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