Binational art program empowers teens - #SayItWithoutShame

FOCUS: Binational Showcase is a binational arts program run by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Museo Tamayo take to the streets to work collaboratively in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. Courtesy photo

FOCUS: Binational Showcase is a binational arts program run by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Museo Tamayo take to the streets to work collaboratively in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. Courtesy photo

SAN DIEGO — At 17, Marissa Bennett admits her perception of violence is probably stereotypical.

“Physical violence,” she said. “That’s what I think of when I hear the word ‘violence.’ It’s what we see on TV, in video games and the movies.”

That changed when she became part of an arts program for youth on both sides of the border. Youth Empowerment through Social Practice Art: Strategies for Coping with Violence and Trauma is a partnership between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. The yearlong collaboration — funded by the Museums Connect program run by American Alliance of Museums — allowed teens to participate in online forums, artist lectures, community interactions and weeklong cross-border visits to explore how art can effect social change.

The results of the binational project will be presented in a three-day exhibition called “FOCUS: Binational Showcase” that opens Friday at MCASD’s downtown location.

“Violence is more than just the physical. It can be emotional violence, psychological violence,” said Bennett, who’s graduating from West Hills High School in Santee and headed for UCLA to pursue an art degree.

Bennett’s artwork — in her case, photography — will be among those featured in the exhibition that will showcase work by 22 teenagers from San Diego and Mexico City. The show will present art in various media, including video installations and sculptural works. A social media hashtag was employed, too: #sayitwithoutshame.

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