Youth Worker Gives Teens a Glimmer of Made Here – Brilliance

Jason Quaynor helps teens create a public art showcase.

Edina-based recording artist Jason Quaynor is an assistant coordinator for Teen Tech Center, an after-school art space at the Minneapolis Central Library. It’s an ideal outlet for his talents as both artist and pedagogue. “I’ve been working with teens since I was a teen,” says Quaynor.

Beat machines, a green screen and a 3D printer are some of the professional-grade equipment available to the approximately 25 teens who drop in to the center each afternoon. The software selection includes almost every graphic design, audio and video production program a multimedia artist could hope for. Providing ample distraction from less-enriching digital haunts, this tech panoply also serves to uncover latent creative aptitudes, or as Quaynor puts it: “So they won’t be left wondering, ‘What if?’”

This winter, Quaynor’s students prepared a “Youth Artist Edition” showcase as part of the Minneapolis “Made Here” public art initiative. Joan Vorderbruggen, cultural district art coordinator, is the driving force behind this ongoing public art effort to “soften Minneapolis’s downtown [by] transforming vacant storefronts into an urban art gallery.” She describes the Teen Tech Center’s addition as “a multimedia hodgepodge.”

The exhibit includes 2D pieces, a circuitry project and a functional vending machine built from Legos and PicoCrickets, along with a 6-minute loop of behind-the-scenes footage and artist interviews, filmed and edited by Quaynor and teenage after-effects whiz Connor O’Keefe. Although Quaynor likens filming self-conscious adolescents to “herding cats,” he felt this mini-documentary was necessary to underscore the center’s “process, not product” philosophy.

Now in its second iteration, the 2015 Minneapolis “Made Here” festival theme is “Brilliance!” Flashy LED display notwithstanding, Quaynor insists, “The real brilliance here is the kids.”

Learn more about Jason “QUAY5” Quaynor’s musical career, watch videos and download singles from his brand-new EP Dress Rehearsal at


Teen Tech Center’s Brilliance! Made Here Display
On view through March 30.
730 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.