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We Still Live (XY)bition at RedLine Contemporary Art Center

On January 5, 2018, Arts Street youth came together with the community to celebrate We Still Live, a six-month adventure into culture, identity and self-reflection. The exhibit showcased the youth’s explorations of poetry, photography, painting, printmaking, and mixed media.

We Still Live is a community-based art venture with Arts Street@YEA and nationally renowned Denver artist, Thomas Evans, designed to initiate change for underserved youth in the Denver community.

This art venture was originally inspired by Thomas Evans’ project They Still Live, in which local African American creatives participated in an interactive photo experience. They had their DNA tested and were then photographed by Evans with traditional African art from Paul Hamilton’s extensive collection in Denver. The final results of their DNA and the photos were revealed and exhibited at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in 2016.

Initiating the We Still Live project, we talked to youth about problems in their communities and they told us that gang involvement and violence was impacting their neighborhoods. One young man told us,

Kids first look to joining a gang because they feel they don’t have a place in this world – or a point for even being. They need opportunities to shine a light on a new way.

Expanding on this project, We Still Live aimed to provide arts-based pro-social alternatives to the influences of gang recruitment and community alienation for Denver youth ages 14 to 21. The program was designed to fit three areas: self-reflection and cultural exploration, training in creative industry skills, and creating social impact through community projects.

Youth explored self-identity through poetry and visual art including photography, video design, printmaking, painting, and digital design. To learn more about their genetic background, Arts Street partnered with to provide participants with a DNA test. They were then given opportunities to work with professional artist mentors to respond creatively to new perceptions regarding their heritage and what that means to their concept of self.

This exhibition highlights the art and self-reflection of the We Still Live youth during 2017 beginning with their summer internships to their creative exploration in the fall. It shows the power of identity and heritage and boldly states

We Still Live!

To read about what some of our youth had to say about the We Still Live project, visit this 5280 Article.

Explore our exhibit catalog:

Healing As One

Healing As One is a billboard art campaign featuring designs by Arts Street youth who were given the task of envisioning the world how they see it, not as it is, but how it should be.

Unified, not divided.

A world filled with hope, love, peace, unity, forgiveness, and grace.

The billboards will be displayed throughout Denver starting January, 2018.

Healing As One was created in July 2016 after five police officers were shot in Dallas, Texas in retaliation against recent fatal police shootings of civilians in Minnesota and Louisiana. Under the direction of Mayor Michael B. Hancock, the City and County of Denver collaborated with the faith community to provide “safe spaces” for community members to come together to communicate, reflect, and heal over the prevalent violence happening all over the country.

Their continuous work with race and justice issues, building a welcoming city for all, and providing safe spaces, culminated in a billboard campaign enveloping the Healing As One message. They asked Arts Street youth to share their vision through art of how they see the world, not as it is, but as it should be.

Through these billboards, this project hopes to bring reminders of hope, love, peace, unity, forgiveness, and grace, to the forefront of Denver resident’s hearts and minds.

The locations are: 21st & California, 5455 N. Federal, 1506 W, 38th, 4350 W. Colfax, and 1905 N. Federal.

For more information on this project and to see the winning designs click here.

To see the story on DENVER (CBS4) click here.

We Still Live: Culture, Identity and Art

This Summer 2017, Arts Street embarked on an amazing adventure into culture,identity and self-reflection: We Still Live (WSL). This community-based art project, in collaboration with 46 Arts Street@YEA youth, artist Thomas Evans and Denver gang prevention programs, worked with youth to combat gang recruitment by exploring self-identity and cultural heritage through art. Participants spent 6 weeks exploring their identity and how to build community wealth through visual and spoken word art and youth-led community initiatives.

This collaborative project was inspired by a survey given to youth where they revealed gang violence was the primary issue in their communities. According to the Department of Justice, young people get involved in gangs due to a “need for family” and “generational involvement.” It became clear that to strategically respond to this issue, youth need pro-social activities that address elements of gang participation and provide youth the opportunity to explore cultures and collective creativity.

Inspiration also came from Thomas Evan’s artistic work, They Still Live (TSL). We felt an extension of this project would be a perfect model for exploring gang issues. Evans developed TSL as a journey into self-discovery. He worked with local African-Americans to portray their culture and identity. The exhibition combined photographic portraits, African artifacts, and the models’ DNA results to link each to their heritage. Their DNA was revealed at a gallery opening next to their portraits. The project gained national recognition and participants were greatly impacted.

After their 6 month intensive, students came away with a better knowledge of how to be a part of their community and what cultures exist in Denver. In the fall, these same youth will receive the results of their own DNA test and begin to use different art techniques to determine how they relate to their heritage.

We were so impressed by these young peoples’ hard work this summer and look forward to seeing its completion in the fall.

Stay tuned for final exhibition details and WSL updates. 

Billboards for Good 

Arts Street’s youth create art that can be seen around Denver & at DIA

In April of 2017 Arts Street youth worked on a large scale arts project with First Bank.  Youth designed and painted four murals to be used for First Bank’s Billboards for Good campaign. These murals were then photographed and turned into billboards and bus signage throughout Colorado. Youth were paid a stipend and were thrilled to have their work recognized and for thousands of people to see it in person. A huge thank you to First Bank for the wonderful opportunity.

billboard image copy

La Alma Connection Master Art Plan, Art Celebration Block Party and Parade

In 2016, Arts Street worked with over 100 Denver area, underserved, high school to college-age youth, facilitating sustainable urban design and creative placemaking classes and workshops to problem solve traffic congestion and neighborhood issues in the La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhood. The five-block walk on 10th Ave from the Osage St. light rail stop to Santa Fe Drive has little appeal for pedestrian use so students created a Master Art Plan to create suggestions for possible improvements in the area. By integrating functional art and community activities into the streetscape, the La Alma Connection project hopes activate and encourage alternative transportation.

During 2016, students not only interviewed local community members to find out what they would like to see, but they also compiled their suggestions, created proposals and did three public art installations along the route. After highlighting the area during the La Alma Connection Art Celebration and Block Party, Arts Street published the La Alma Connection Master Art Plan.

The final hope for this project is that other artists will take this research into consideration and create a more inviting space along W. 10th Ave.

For the full Master Art Plan click here 

A picture is worth a thousand words: we’d love for you to enjoy browsing our class photo albums and the videos made by Arts Street students for events, and for paying clients.

In 2012 when Arts Street received a permanent home from Denver Housing Authority, students came together to create this amazing hummingbird mosaic that has become the iconic Arts Street entrance.