several students sit or stand behind a table with jewelry and other crafts they created
Students with East Oakland Makers from Castlemont High School show off their crafts at a block party last year. Credit: Joyce Xi

Artwork and crafts created by hundreds of Oakland students will be on display and available for purchase this Saturday, at the annual Youth Creative Expo in Old Oakland.

The block party, happening from noon to 6 p.m. on April 15, is being organized by Civic Design Studio, an agency that collaborates with Oakland Unified School District to promote the creative arts and expose students in OUSD’s arts, media, and entertainment pathways—industry tracks that students select in high school—to college and career options in creative fields.

youth creative expo

Date: Saturday, April 15

Time: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Old Oakland, starting at Broadway and Ninth Street

“It’s a chance to see an Oakland youth perspective, hear their voices, interests, identities, and the way they see and explore the world,” said David Maduli, the event’s co-coordinator. “Art is for everyone—the ability and potential is in all of us, and with resources and guidance, we’re able to tap into that and harness it.”

The exhibits will feature piñatas created by students at Frick United Academy of Language, clothing designed by students in Oakland Tech’s fashion academy, ceramics made by students at Oakland High, and self-portraits by students at Oakland International High School, along with other works of photography, graphic design, and music. The Prescott Circus Theatre will perform live, and artwork from students at the Peralta Colleges will also be on display. 

The event’s partners include E14 Gallery, a space on Ninth Street at Broadway that specializes in showcasing work by artists with close ties to Oakland. Saturday’s block party will shut down Ninth Street from Broadway to Washington Street. 

“We wanted to create a space that is open to the community, where they feel safe and celebrated, and where young people can display their work and feel proud of it,” said Viviana Rodriguez-Smith, the owner and curator of E14 Gallery. “During these times of turmoil and constant bad news, we want to be something positive for the community.”

Chapter 510, a youth creative writing center, also on Ninth Street, will have a booth encouraging people to write poetry, and will be co-hosting a scavenger hunt with the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, a video game museum on Washington Street. Additional partners include The Crucible, Junior Center of Art and Science, the de Young Museum, and Oakland Youth Chorus. 

Funds from the art sales will go to students and their schools, Wong said. 

“There’s so much that happens in schools that no one gets to see,” said Tommy Wong, the owner of Civic Design Studio. “We’re amazed at the creativity and talent in the schools, and we wanted to highlight it.”

Ashley McBride headshot

Ashley McBride writes about education equity for The Oaklandside. Her work covers Oakland’s public district and charter schools. Before joining The Oaklandside in 2020, Ashley was a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the San Francisco Chronicle as a Hearst Journalism Fellow, and has held positions at the Poynter Institute and the Palm Beach Post. Ashley earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.