St. Louis #StoryStitchers Artist Collective use art to fight #gunviolence

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It's urban storytelling with an anti-gun message. “We do a lot on gun violence because it is the main issue that the youth want to work on,” said Susan Colangelo, president of St. Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective, a nonprofit based in University City. “We work collaboratively here, so we look at and listen to what’s happening in the community and we generate ideas.”

Story Stitchers provides a creative outlet for young artists ages 16 to 24. Ideas for Story Stitchers include dance, spoken word, hip hop, videography, photography, writing workshops and publishing.  

“We help them get their voices out,” said Colangelo. “We do discussions with youth that are youth-led. We take that information and generate books, songs, plays. We are picking the city up. I think what we’re doing is community building.“

Story Stitchers member Antonio Clark is a student at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. “It’s a habit. I can’t stop dancing,” he said. “I love it and that’s why I do it.”

Clark, who enjoys dancing, joined Story Stitchers to be a role model.

“I like standing out, you know what I’m saying? You’re not gonna see me with guns or anything like that,” he said. “I just want the rest of my youth, the rest of my generation to understand that there’s no point in what they’re doing. I know a lot of people that lost their lives to violence, family members, friends, people that I knew from school.”

The message to drop the gun is personal for some of the Story Stitchers and that’s why many of the organization’s performances take place in the neighborhoods where members live. “We have been going into the neighborhoods where our youth live, so Walnut Park, Jeff Vander Lou, we’re going to the juvenile detention center.”

Story Stitchers goes beyond performances, organizing community forums like gun violence summits featuring stakeholders and experts from the community. It’s young people using their skills to be part of the solution.

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#UrbanYogis Offer Free Yoga for Youth in Queens

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Urban Yogis operates in schools and prisons. The group takes the mission around the country, like in Chicago.

Life Camp's Shanair Hogan said they introduced yoga to kids in Chicago and got a lot of push-back at first. But then the kids became excited and yearned for it each day.

Urban Yogis operates in South Jamaica, Queens, on Fridays. Juquille Johnston is one of the instructors. Originally introduced to the practice for his own good, he is now one of the leaders. His passion is rooted in his personal evolution.

This is all part of Life Camp, an anti-gun violence nonprofit organization committed to changing the mindset of youth and community norms. The group's work has become a real draw. Urban Yogis falls under the Life Camp umbrella. The impact of the work is undeniable. They believe yoga has played a role in the drop in crime in the neighborhood.

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Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Turn City Youth Into Artists

 Art by Lajachanae Minter of East English Village Preparatory Academy is on display.  Rachel Woolf, Special to the Free Press

Art by Lajachanae Minter of East English Village Preparatory Academy is on display.  Rachel Woolf, Special to the Free Press

Kenneth Holloway never saw himself as an artist. But then his teacher, Gloria Byers, challenged him to create a piece of artwork using corrugated cardboard, a selfie, pastel chalk and other materials.

The result: A colorful self-portrait using mixed media that was so good, it was selected to be on display during the Detroit Public School Community District Student Exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

"It feels good to let people see my work, to see that it means something," said Holloway, 17, a senior at Osborn College Preparatory Academy.

His artwork is one of hundreds of pieces on exhibit beginning Saturday at the DIA, an annual display that gives students a unique opportunity to showcase their talent.

It's the 80th such exhibition at the museum, and is the longest-running partnership the DIA has with an educational organization. The Detroit Public Schools Foundation and the Ruth T.T. Cattell Education Endowment Fund funded the exhibition.

Follow the link for more photos and additional info.

New Documentary About Cleveland Youth Advocacy and Arts Organization

 Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Less than a year since being founded by 28-year-old law student and artist Amanda King, Shooting Without Bullets has developed a dedicated core of teens telling their stories through art.  Their stories will be showcased in Under Exposed, a documentary film.

King began Shooting Without Bullets as a response to the tumultuous local socio-political climate kickstarted by the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014. After she was named to the ensuing Cleveland Community Police Commission and serving on it for a year, King realized that it still fell short in communicating with portions of the population it was created to serve. 

“The way it was structured – very meeting-oriented, very recommendation-oriented – wasn’t conducive to interactions with teenagers in particular,” she says. 

This notion of invisibility and disconnection is echoed by the young people involved in the program.

“Some people acknowledge us, but for others it’s in one ear and out the other,” 16-year-old photographer Leilani Williams, a student at John Hay’s Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, comments. “Especially as black youth, we get pushed off so easily.”

“People shake us off like we’re not there or only acknowledge us for the bad things,” reiterates 20-year-old Charles Mosley, also a student at CSAD.

Follow the link to find out more about their work.

First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Texas Latino Art Museum For Youth Development Program

 Courtesy of  LatinTimes .

Courtesy of LatinTimes.

Michelle Obama has been praised throughout her family's reign over the White House for her amazing efforts within youth development over the country. Now, as the first family prepares to leave an impressive legacy behind, the first lady is honoring a Latino museum for their strides in bridging the gap between the youth and the arts.

According to FOX News Latino, the Mexic-Arte Museum in Downtown Austin, Texas will be honored with the nation's highest achievement for creative youth development programs. 

Known for its display of Latin art, culture and history, Mexic-Arte Museum has been providing thousands of students the opportunity to learn techniques and skills within art.

The "Screen It!" program teaches screen printing to students of various ages, usually 10 to 17, and the purpose of the program is to bring this new art technique into their classroom." Olivia Tamzarian, an education coordinator for Mexic-Arte Museum, said. "What a lot of people don't realize is, this art form has a strong tie to the Latino community, so screen printing is a way of spreading a message."

Click here to read the full article on LatinTimes.