Grassroots Art Festival Brings Community Together

Lauren Steinhofer turned to painting as a way to heal from loss. But it turned into a calling for something even greater — an opportunity to provide inspiration to others in her community. From the ground up, she organized and executed a successful grassroots art festival last summer that she plans to hold every year.

“To hear someone saying something that they’re inspired by me, if something like this inspires them to keep going then, then I did good in my book,” she shares.

Video Transcript

Meet Lauren Steinhofer: festival creator

August 2019, pre-pandemic: South Bend, Indiana

(Lauren grabs supplies, paints outside)

Lauren Steinhofer: I started painting right after my Mom died when I was 18. The first painting I ever did, it was called “Think With Your Heart and not With Your Head.” I don’t know. After she died, I wasn’t able — like my family doesn’t talk about emotions like that.

I was just trying. That was me literally, the first time I knew that I needed to start processing my emotions. I wanted to do something for everyone else and create that experience. And I don’t have a lot of money, so it wasn’t even like a thing, I just wanted to do it. So I just did it.

Lauren founded a yearly grassroots art festival called “(Y)ART?”

At a thing like (Y)ART?, whatever you’re making, you can put it in there, and it is art because you made it.

(Y)ART? is an art and music festival with no age or experience restrictions.

But I’m not doing it by myself. I’m not. I’m getting a lot of help. My Dad’s paying for the porta-potty for my birthday. 

(Lauren and others setting up for festival) I got the extension cord, sketchbook, flat board, miter saw, screws, paneling, orange spray paint, that regular saw, extra 2x4s, drill, house paint. Got to grab that. Weird triangles. Yeah, so if I build a corner, as long as it feels like it, it doesn’t have to be exactly it. You know? I feel like that’s the thing.

Producer: Where does the name “(Y)ART?” come from?

Lauren: It’s just raising the question, why art? Coincidentally, it also is in a yard. So like “yard art.”

(Lauren lifts wooden television frame) This is where I got the idea to build the TV stage. It’s just a play on perspective. But you can build your own TV, and then show your Mom, “Hey, look, I’m on TV.” I think there’s more to that, but I can’t really put it to words right now.

Speaker on stage: Checking the mic. Check, check, check.

Lauren: Okay. I’m getting nervous because it’s 2:20, and Anderson’s not here yet. I’m running out of space for artists, and I can’t remember if anyone else is coming, and…yeah.

(People walk around (Y)ART? festival)

I’m amazed. I am amazed. I didn’t know that it was going to be this impactful.

Man 1: This is amazing.

Man 2: Good turnout.

Man 3: I knew it was gonna be tight, but like — it’s tight.

(band playing on stage)

Lauren: To hear someone saying something that they’re inspired by me, if something like this inspires them to keep going then, then I did good in my book. So that’s how I feel.

Lauren cancelled “(Y)ART?” 2020 due to the pandemic. She says it will be “bigger and sicker” in 2021.

Band member speaking on stage: Enjoy the rest of the night, and much love to Lauren for having us. Peace out, (Y)ART?.

(band playing on stage)

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