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 Ancestry.com 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!
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