A Merger of Horses, Art and Entrepreneurship: The GiddyUP! Youth Empowerment Initiative Art Exhibition


The GiddyUP! Youth Empowerment Initiative art exhibition opened its doors to an enthusiastic audience on Friday, June 28, at the Morton Museum of Collierville History.

This unique exhibition is a celebration of creativity, mentorship, and the entrepreneurial spirit of young minds in the Bridge Up Giddy Up program at Collierville’s Southern Blues Equestrian Center (SBEC). The exhibition runs until August 17, allowing ample time for visitors to immerse themselves in this innovative blend of art and equestrianism.

The exhibition is hosted at the Morton Museum of Collierville History, located at 196 N Main St, Collierville, Tenn. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 4 pm, with free admission for all visitors. The display features ten entrepreneurial projects designed by students in the Bridge Up Giddy Up program, alongside paintings by their mentor, visual artist José Valverde, and photographs by Adarryll Jackson.

Bridge Up Giddy launched in 2021 by SBEC in partnership with the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, the Bridge Up Giddy Up program offers youth from the Whitehaven community access to personal development through horseback riding. This initiative is free of charge and includes transportation, weekly riding lessons, meals, and complementary activities led by mentors from the Mid-south community. Over three years, participants have reported increased confidence, better teamwork skills, and improved academic performance, with aspirations for higher education.

The GiddyUP! exhibition explores the interplay between art, horses, and entrepreneurship. These elements serve as foundations for creativity, confidence, and lifelong learning. José Valverde, a mentor in the program, emphasizes the importance of thinking creatively and bringing ideas to life. His goal is to equip young students with the tools to continually create, grow, and share their knowledge within their communities.

The exhibition is a vibrant tapestry of colors, cultures, and ideas. José Valverde’s art stands out with its vivid use of color, inspired by Native American and Mexican cultures. His work seamlessly blends  his ancestral ties with contemporary life, creating a strong visual narrative that resonates with the viewer.

The graphic designs by the Bridge Up Giddy Up students are equally impressive. These pieces focus on promoting ethical equestrian products and services across various industries, including music, digital apps, grooming, environmental services, and equine event management. Each design emphasizes the importance of putting horses first, and highlights the students’ entrepreneurial spirit.

The students’ creative designs and vibrant colors blend diverse cultures, resulting in street art that is both expressive and thought-provoking. Some pieces encapsulate this fusion, while others employ traditional graphic design to promote businesses and products. This variety not only challenges conventional norms of equestrianism but also expands it into new societal, cultural, and aesthetic dimensions.

Adarryll Jackson’s photography narrates the journey of the Bridge Up Giddy Up team through his captivating images. His work features candid moments and dynamic action shots from their equestrian studies, showcasing the students’ enthusiasm and attentiveness to their mentors and horses. Additionally, his photographs capture the students’ impressive successes in the ring, riding and competing at levels that typically require several years of training and experience.

The GiddyUP! Youth Empowerment Initiative art exhibition is a testament to the power of creativity, mentorship, and entrepreneurship. It showcases how art and horses can come together to teach valuable life lessons and inspire young minds. If you’re in the area, make sure to visit the Morton Museum of Collierville History before August 17 to experience this unique fusion of art and equestrianism, and support a community that values learning, growth, and innovation.

Lauren Abbott

Lauren is a lifelong equestrian. She was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. Lauren has worked in Journalism for over 20 years and has served as a staff writer, designer, photographer, audience and business development consultant, & advertising senior executive. She is the Owner & Publisher of MSHR, and CEO of Ford Abbott Media, LLC, the parent company of the Horse Review and Hunt & Field Magazine.

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