What if realizing your historical past might provide you with a larger sense of confidence and encourage your route in life?

“The undertaking was made to be liberating, eye-opening, and informative…an effort to spark curiosity in people to find their heritage and to be taught extra concerning the historical past of their origins.”
— Thomas Evans

Following the success of They Still Live in 2017, artist Thomas Evans wished to make an influence on his Denver neighborhood by inviting younger adults to discover their heritage by way of artwork, poetry, and images.

The evolution of Thomas’ exhibit became We Nonetheless Dwell, a community-based artwork undertaking collaboration with Arts Avenue@YEA, professor and African artwork collector Paul Hamilton, and Denver gang prevention applications. This system affords a constructive different for youth to counter detrimental influences by exploring self-identity and cultural heritage by way of artwork.

The undertaking began in June 2017 with 49 younger adults referred by Denver Public Faculties and social service companies. The youth chosen reported having had contact with the juvenile justice system or self-identified greater threat components for potential gang involvement.

Through the use of AncestryDNA to assist uncover their ethnicity and ancestral roots, college students got a deeper sense of belonging to their historical past and neighborhood.

“Initiating this undertaking, we talked to youth about issues of their communities they usually instructed us that gang involvement and violence was impacting their neighborhoods. One younger man instructed us,

 ‘Youngsters first look to becoming a member of a gang as a result of they really feel they don’t have a spot on this world – or a degree for even being. They want alternatives to shine a light-weight on a brand new means.’”

One of many artwork initiatives was for college kids to make a masks representing who they have been as people.

One other train challenged college students to put in writing identification poems primarily based on writing prompts from poet and visitor teacher Toluwanimi Oluwafunmilayo Obiwole.

College students then seen Paul Hamilton’s assortment of African artifacts and masks. Professor Paul Hamilton is an African Research educational, earlier Colorado State Consultant, and famend collector of effective African masks and African artwork. See a previous interview we had with Mr. Hamilton here.

After finishing this system, college students have been requested to share their suggestions on how this system helped remodel their considering. The participant survey was created by the Nationwide Analysis Middle for the Alliance for Inventive Youth Improvement and it reported that:

  • 78% mentioned that…Really feel that I could make extra of a distinction
  • 78% mentioned that…Realized I can do issues I didn’t assume I might do earlier than
  • 71% mentioned that…Really feel higher about my future
  • 80% mentioned that…Really feel I’m higher at dealing with no matter comes my means
  • 82% mentioned that…Care extra about younger folks of different cultures, races, or ethnic teams
  • 82% mentioned that…Have extra respect for younger folks of different cultures, races or ethnic teams
  • 84% mentioned that…Really feel extra comfy with younger folks of different cultures, races, or ethnic teams
  • 82% mentioned that…Strive tougher to not decide folks primarily based on pores and skin colour
  • 89% mentioned that…I perceive that somebody who seems to be or sound completely different than me is probably not that completely different in any case

Having the chance to look at the non-public progress of those college students has been immensely inspiring. We every have a lot to be happy with in our household histories and we are able to be taught from the hardships our ancestors overcame. We encourage you to unlock your previous to see the way it would possibly encourage your future.

Arts Avenue@YEA is a Denver-based group devoted to serving to high-risk youth channel their creative abilities and pure curiosity into skilled actions wanted for the rapid future. To be taught extra concerning the We Nonetheless Dwell exhibit and the great applications at Arts Avenue@YEA, visit their website.

 



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