Marcy and Jan to Drum Up the Artwell Awards!

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Image: Marcy and Jan performing at the 2013 Artwell Awards

Marcy Francis and Jan Jefferies have been Artists-in-Residence at Artwell for 15 years, facilitating musically charged workshops through Artwell and beyond the Philadelphia area. The Artwell Awards would not be the same without their contagious rhythms and vocals. That is why we have invited them to energize and inspire the audience as always.

        Marcy Francis has a long musical history as a vocalist and instrumentalist, performing on various albums during the 1990’s. She has also performed at many venues, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Philadelphia Museum of Art, and various educational institutions throughout the city. She leads the Sisters of Compassion gospel group and previously coached the Women’s Sekere Ensemble. Her most notable instrument is the Sekere, the African Sacred Hand Drum.

        Jan Jefferies is commonly known throughout Philadelphia as Ms. Rhythm Speaker, due to her diverse experiences in the world of percussion and dancing. So diverse, in fact, that she has developed her own style of performance, known as Rhythm Taps. In Hawaii, where she has been a resident, she co-founded the award-winning North American Bush Band, and composed music for various dance and theatre productions. Marcy and Jan currently lead percussionist group Music Over Matter, or M.O.M. for short.

        Marcy and Jan will end the Artwell Awards and provide musical accompaniment into the desert reception. Audience members can stay, chat and network over delicious treats as the musical group does their thing and uplifts 2424 Studios in percussion and song. The audience may even have a chance to join in and feel the music! We are happy to be working with such highly talented and creative individuals such as Marcy and Jan.

        Please join us as we go on an infectious musical journey with Marcy and Jan at the 2015 Artwell Awards on October 17th.

Marcy and Jan smiling and drumming together nice

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Beginnings of a Visionary Poet

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Guest Blog Post by Jerron Corley: ArtWell Alumnus, intern, & 2015 ArtWell Awards Student Leader honoree

This October, the second annual Artwell Awards will be held at 2424 Studios in Philadelphia. There will be three honorees: the Visionary Leader honoree, the Miki Young Leadership honoree, and Student Leader honoree. This year, I am thrilled to be honored as a Student Leader by Artwell.

I have a long history with this organization; so long that I remember meeting at the original offices in the Cathedral on 38th and Chestnut, and when Artwell was formerly known as the Arts and Spirituality Center. I began my transition into a visionary poet and leader within the classrooms of my alma mater, Parkway West High School.

At Parkway, Dr. Cathy Cohen of Artwell facilitated the “We the Poets” program every Tuesday throughout most of my high school career. She would give us various topics to write about, or have us start off poems with a specific sentence. These activities shaped me into the poet I am today; I have the creative freedom to write about anyone and anything. The “We the Poets” program inspired me to internalize a four-word principle of life, “To Educate and Elevate.”

Whenever I write, I intend to educate, meaning to provide knowledge and awareness to what it is that I am telling my audience. Next, once I provide the knowledge, I provide reasoning to possess the knowledge I give. This reasoning will help to elevate individuals, and uplift them with an understanding of what must be done with that knowledge.

I continue to carry that principle with me everywhere I go. As an aspiring journalist and current college student, I write about various things going on around campus, as well as what is going on in the world we live in. When I return to college in August, I will be educating and elevating students about minorities in America, as well as possible career paths for students who are undecided in their studies.

To be honored as Artwell’s Student Leader will be one of the most appreciative moments of my life. For five long years, Artwell has been one of many contributions to my sense of individuality, creativity and activism. They have inspired me to to inspire others, and that in itself is a gift of lifelong proportions.

When I accept this honor in October, I will also perform an original piece of spoken word that has been worked on for months. I hope the audience before me will be educated and elevated. I will share with them my world through my words.

Learn more about the ArtWell Awards on October 17th, and join me for a night full of celebration that will leave you inspired, and will also support youth arts education.

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Lynne Horoschak: Connecting Passion and Mission

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Image: Lynne Horoschak, Graduate Program Manager for Graduate Studies at Moore’s MA in Art Education with an Emphasis in Special Populations, with graduate students and their students, 2013. Photo: Greenhouse Media.

If you’ve been to ArtWell’s office, you’ve likely noticed the striking painting “Sandy”, which hangs against a chartreuse wall, picking up the color in the wall and the blues and red brick throughout the office. The work, painted by Lynne Horoschak, looks as if it was made specifically for this location, and all are surprised to learn the painting came to life independently of the ArtWell office. The perfect pairing of painting to location is entirely due to Lynne’s talent in seeing the connection of her work and her surroundings.

Lynne’s talent to build meaningful connections is part of her brilliance. In 2009, Lynne worked with Moore College of Art and Design to create the nation’s first MA in Art Education with an Emphasis in Special Populations. Lynne had seen first-hand the need for art teachers to be better equipped to meet the needs of all students, especially in Philadelphia during her 36 years teaching in the public schools. She was able to realize that Moore could serve as an incubator to provide creativity, ideas, and support to educators who work in challenging settings across our country. Today, this program serves as a model for education as our nation continues to struggle with meeting the needs of our students.

Lynne believes strongly in the importance of art in educating our youth. She has shown her dedication through the time, talent, and care given to educate youth and educators across Philadelphia and beyond. “The arts give a voice to our youth. It encourages dreams where there were none, comfort where there was strife, success where there was failure, and a story where there were no words. Art speaks volumes.”

In addition to her classroom work, Lynne has been a leader in the community through her service on ArtWell’s Board of Directors, which she joined in  2005. Lynne and fellow Philadelphia influencer Miki Young were co-chairs of ArtWell’s Board from 2010 through 2013. Together, they led ArtWell through a strategic process of refining and focusing of our mission, growing in programming and partnerships, and in connecting ArtWell with partners and thought leaders throughout the region.

Lynne’s work with ArtWell has supported a tremendous season of growth. Our programs continue to serve hundreds of students throughout the region each year. The importance of providing youth with creative outlets is clear. As Lynne states, “Integrate art into other disciplines and our youth will reap the rewards of self-confidence and success. Students come to school excited about ArtWell; delighting in experimenting, discovering, learning, and celebrating are the highlights of an ArtWell day.”

Lynne will receive the very first Miki Young Leadership Award at the 2015 ArtWell Awards on October 17th. Miki was well-loved for her passion, transcendent spirit, and overflowing joy. ArtWell remains grateful for the lasting impact Miki made while serving on our Board of Directors, which continues to propel Artwell forward.

ArtWell is very honored to award Lynne Horoschak, who herself is full of passion, spirit, and joy,  with the Miki Young Leadership Award. Lynne continues to support youth and educators throughout our region and beyond through her Board Leadership with ArtWell, her work with the National Arts Education Association, as President-Elect in the newly formed Division of the Visual and Performing Arts of Council for Exceptional Children, and through lectures, workshops, and more.

Please join us for the 2015 ArtWell Awards on October 17th as we honor Lynne’s leadership and legacy with joy and celebration.

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Image: “Sandy” by Lynne Horoschak, which currently hangs in the ArtWell offices.

 

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ArtWell Honors Spike Lee at the 2015 ArtWell Awards on October 17th!

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Image: Spike Lee visits ArtWell fall 2014

We are honored to welcome visionary artist and director, philanthropist, and activist Spike Lee to the ArtWell Awards on October 17th. Spike’s body of work, particularly his 1997 documentary 4 Little Girls about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Alabama in 1963, has never been more relevant than it is at this moment. As our nation continues to struggle with racism, Spike Lee continues to be a champion for equality.

It is also Spike Lee’s  belief in educational opportunity and the importance of the arts in education, which makes ArtWell especially proud to honor him, “I do not know what kind of nation we are that is cutting art, music, and gym out of the public-school curriculum.”

ArtWell believes that together with your help, we can work toward providing a transformative education that includes access to the arts for all students and continue to give young people the opportunity to discover their own strengths and those of their communities. We must lift up all of our youth to provide them with a strong foundation so they can lead us into a future filled with kindness, compassion, and equality.

Join us to help provide art and music for all students and to amplify voices that often go unheard. Join us in celebrating the immense talent of our students. Join us in supporting our teachers. Join us together with Spike Lee on October 17th for the ArtWell Awards to honor ArtWell leaders for a night that will not only leave you inspired, but a night where we come together in support of opportunity and education.

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Image: 2015 Mural created by The Art of Growing Leaders students from LaSalle academy designed and created in response to racism.

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ArtWell Awards 2015 honors Spike Lee, Lynne Horoschak, Jerron Corley

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Announcing the 2015 ArtWell Awards

Honoring Spike Lee, Lynne Horoschak, & Jerron Corley

Honorees

Saturday, October 17th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

2424 East York Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Tickets and Additional Information

ArtWell inspires the dreamers, the creators, the artists, & the learners.

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We see the passion to learn and the need for self-expression in our students every day. ArtWell programming reaches over 1500 youth a year giving young people the platform and vehicles that amplify their voices and help them realize their potential. Through writing, music, poetry, visual arts, storytelling, performance and spoken-word, and other art forms, students discuss personal and social issues, explore their emotions and identities, and develop deeper cultural understandings.

Please join us for this special evening in celebration to support ArtWell programming and celebrate visionary leaders who transform our world and inspire us through the arts.

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“I was once told that I could never be a writer. That I could never stand in front of hundreds reciting this poem – but you didn’t know me. I write with my pen because my mind refuses to leave a sheet of paper blank.”

– Jerron Corley, ArtWell Student and ArtWell Awards 2015 Honoree

Saturday, October 17th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

2424 East York Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Tickets and Additional Information

Awards Banner for Post

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ArtWell Slam Cultivates Garden of Hope, Guts, and Growth

ArtWell Slam Team spring 2015

“She calls it her garden of hope.

Every day she watches over it to see if something will grow.”

-Kadijah, ArtWell Slam Team member

ArtWell has been honored to help plant our own seeds of hope by supporting young poets through an ArtWell Slam Team which competed this year through the PYPM’s Philadelphia city-wide Slam League.

Co-coaches Sara Graybeal and Noel Quiñones masterfully led our students through an exciting season culminating in a semi-finals competition.

ArtWell’s team of middle school students competed against high school students, blossoming in the process. Noel saw this firsthand, “The team grew not only as individuals but as writers, conquering fears of writing as well as stage fright. They learned to work together on group pieces and they showed that they could hold their own with high schoolers. The growth they exhibited is plain to see and I am so happy I got to be a part of that. “

Angelo, ArtWell Slam Team member, echoed this sentiment showing both guts and depth of emotion, “I grew over time going on stage in front of high schoolers. It helped me get over my fear of stage fright. When I did my poem, I was able to get over that. And I also danced on stage.  That experience taught me not to be scared to overcome your fear. “

The Slam competitions bring students from around the city together in a supportive environment. The energy in the room is one of excitement, emotion, and active encouragement. Students are able to take the risk of performance in a place that erupts with appreciation of cheers, positive calls, and applause in salute to their bravery. And these students are just that – brave. Their words speak to personal topics that have a global resonance.

Angelo’s poem, Dear Dad, is a powerful reminder that our youth deal with adult issues every day of their lives, and desperately need a platform to express and connect. His words burrow into your heart finding first sorrow but then overflowing with pride for this young man (Dear Dad can be found at the end of this post).

The slam league is a good reminder of how important it is to provide a platform for youth to express themselves, “They reminded me that I always have something new to learn and that even a 13 year old can teach me what it means to love an art form.” – Noel Quinones.

Need more inspiration? Check out some of PYPM’s performance archived videos (event titles are listed below each embedded video).

Highlights include:

PYPM Slam League East 3/20:

24.36 ArtWell team member Kadidja

35:00 Dance Break

PYPM Slam League East 3/31:

17:00 ArtWell team group piece:

35.58: ArtWell team member Kadidja

1:05:00: ArtWell team member Hakeem

Hungry for even more amazing spoken-word? Live performance this Sunday, May 31st at the ArtWell Festival. Join us as we celebrate our talented students, make joyful art and noise, and imagine a future where our youth find the support they need to grow in their own gardens of hope and blossom into the leaders of our future.

Dear Dad by ArtWell Slam Team member Angelo:

Why did you do that

Why did you steal

Why did you steal when you could buy it

When I was a kid you asked me

what did I want for my birthday

I said my family

But now, I can only see you on my own time.

I used to think that ankle bracelet was for sports

Green was you’re in shape, red was you’re too fat

But come to find out you’re on house arrest.

You are on house arrest for three years.

Now how am I supposed to see you?

How will you see me walk across the stage when i graduate middle school?

How will I take a picture with only my mom?

How does my uncle feel like my dad?

He’s the one who takes me to basketball games and gives me money for food

He lets me ride in the front seat, unlike you

Who puts your flesh and blood in the back and your homies in the front

I’m sorry, Dad

But you had your chance

You lost it.

Now it’s my time to grow up, be a man

And take care of my family.

I won’t mess up like you did.

 

#wewritelife

image: ArtWell 2015 Slam Team

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ArtWell Students Explore Creative Solutions for Social Challenges

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In today’s test-driven academic climate, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and collaboration often take a back seat to memorization and technical skills. Teachers have little time for flexibility and time exploration for students when the future of their schools and jobs is so closely tied to results from a bubble-test. This hotly debated issue continues to pop-up in daily articles and media links. In point, recently John Oliver had a major segment devoted to just this topic.

Huge changes are in order to re-focus and rebalance where and how kids learn. We know that through play and creativity students gain both emotional intelligence and the understanding of the importance of trial and error (failure) and that success can emerge from unexpected connections.

We’ve all heard Sir Isaac Newton’s story when he was inspired to investigate gravity while in an apple orchard, but there are so many other stories that site down-time, play, or art as the break-through moment. Inspiring stories such as the MacArthur Genius Grant winner, Erik Demaine, who uses origami and art to explore complex genetics and other scientific problems in new ways, highlight the need for art and play not as an extracurricular, but as the curricular (this great article in Seed further develops the connection between creative outlets and complex problem-solving).

It is society’s task to create a learning environment in which our students are just as inspired to experiment, inquire, investigate, and think critically.

ArtWell programs create safe spaces for students to be creative, take risks, dissect personal and public problems, and work collaboratively. This year ArtWell’s The Art of Growing Leaders classes focused on just that: these students were tasked with selecting a societal problem and given time to explore, through creative means, solutions and identify steps toward positive change. Each class chose an artistic platform as a tool for activism, advocacy, and leadership.

How do we create safer neighborhoods? How do we create successful schools? How can we tackle homelessness? These and other issues were explored through creative methods.

ArtWell Teaching Artists Dahlia and Adina’s Bache-Martin School students have chosen to investigate education. Each student has created a square representing their ideal classroom learning experience. The classrooms will be stitched together creating an entire school displaying their hopes for a safe, joyful, effective education and how they would change their classes to get there.

YESPhilly students realized that they didn’t have a place for students to relax, connect, unwind, and create. Their social action project will focus around creating a student lounge for their school, serving their class as well as future students.

Students from The U School feel the absence of that physical activity in their day and have created sculpture and jewelry inspired by exercise. They plan to sell these items to raise funds for an exercise program at their school.

Also at Uschool, Artwell Teaching artists Jay Beck and Youssef Kromah’s students have decided to design a new school logo to develop consciousness about respect and overcoming obstacles, and they hope to be able to print these on shirts and wear them at school.

At Lasalle Academy, the 7th and 8th grade boys class has been working on a series of political cartoons addressing the problem of racism in their neighborhoods. They hope to combine all the cartoons into a collective mural that could get hung in their school for future generations of students.

You can see these projects and help us celebrate our students while supporting their creative visions at the ArtWell Festival on May 31st. Students will have tables to present their creative action projects from 1 – 2 pm. Inspiration from the creative student projects can be directly channeled at 2 pm in the Philadelphia Imagining, in which we invite the public to join students and community partners in exploring the ideal educational environment for Philadelphia in the year 2034 (please RSVP for the Imagining here – you do not need to RSVP for the festival).

ArtWell_4435_150424We are profoundly grateful to Impact100 Philadelphia for awarding ArtWell a $100,000 grant that enabled us to create The Art of Growing Leaders and implement it in 14 classrooms this year. We are also thrilled to have just received a $50,000 grant from the Youth Arts Enrichment grant from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund to support this program in 7 classrooms next year.

It truly takes a village to invest in the creative development of our young people. We hope you will also support these students by joining us at the #ArtWellFestival on May 31st to celebrate our students and their projects.

Hope to see you there!

Images: Top: LaSalle Academy 7th & 8th grade boys’ artwork; center: USchool student works on her creative action project.

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A Community of Sisters: The Art of Growing Leaders at Camp Sojourner

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Guest post by ArtWell teaching artists Ariel Eure & Kris Smith

Cricket silence and shy smiles – this was how we were greeted in January on our first day facilitating ArtWell’s The Art of Growing Leaders program at Camp Sojourner Girls’ Leadership Camp. Fortunately, by the end of our first three hour workshop, while our students weren’t exactly chattering away, each person demonstrated their bravery by offering ideas for our community guidelines and sharing stories about their lives growing up as girls in Philadelphia.

Fast forward four months and we, as facilitators barely have to do any talking. The young women in this program, “Sojourners” have really taken the lead in teaching and learning from each other—a process that is definitely helped by the differing experiences of these young women in the room.

One example of the Soujourners becoming a group of sisters who share and support each other came after they decided to focus on the challenges and issues surrounding primary and secondary education for their culminating creative social action project.

We organized a Cross the Line activity to gain some insight into the girls’ educational experiences. Shoulder to shoulder we stood silently in a line across the room. We read off a list of statements, stopping between each to invite the Sojourners—and ourselves—to cross an imaginary line if the prompt held true in our experiences.

Through prompts that started off as simple as “Cross the line if you are home-schooled” to deeper statements like “Cross the line if you ever felt like you wanted to change school,” we were all able to witness the disparities of experience within the room but also to stand in silent solidarity with each other.

As we moved into our debrief, a question surfaced about the existence of metal detectors in schools. Why do they exist? What was their purpose? As ideas bounced around the room, and the Sojourner sisters offered their own testimonies, we strove to reach a shared understanding. At the end, however, we did not. As we had learned many times before through our activities and discussions, we will not always agree and we will not have all the answers. But there is value in this process and the dialogue that follows. Our conversation on metal detectors in schools did light a fire within us to envision how things could be not just different, but better, and how what we regard as “better” should be defined by the youth who attend these schools each day.

We are honored to work with a group of such fierce and inquisitive young women. From the singing, to acting, to storytelling, the space that we’ve all been able to create together on Sundays has been both transformative and powerful.

We are excited to see the Sojourners present their creative social action project at the upcoming ArtWell Festival. Our Sojourner students’ project seeks to raise awareness about the importance of school funding and the critical need to invest in Philadelphia’s youth.

We hope that you will join us at the Festival on Sunday, May 31st when this group of Sojourner sisters and other youth across the city unveil their year-long process of devising creative ways to solve problems in their communities. Join us to see the final product of these students’ hard work. Click here for more information.

See you there!

images: ArtWell programming at Camp Sojourner 2015.

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Trauma & the Classroom: Discovering Artistic ways to create Sanctuary

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For over 40,000 years ago, humans have used art and creative expression to document their lives and make sense of the world around them. Painting, music, and storytelling are an innate part of humanity. Early cave dwellings from Europe to Indonesia are covered in murals of animals and hand-stencils creating a beautiful space that feels like a home and a sanctuary.

At ArtWell, we begin every new relationship with our students by exploring what sanctuary means to them. We help them to identify spaces where they feel safe and work with them to access peaceful places within themselves and in the outside world.

One of the largest barriers in our work is the persistent trauma that is experienced by youth in our city. According to the 2013 National Survey of Children’s Health, almost half of U.S. youth ages 12-17 have experienced at least two types of “childhood adversity” that could affect their physical and mental health as adults. The percentage is undoubtedly higher in impoverished big cities (thenotebook) We know that safe spaces are vital for growth and learning and hope for the day when all schools are sanctuaries. ArtWell continues to explore what the role of youth-serving community partners, artists, educators, and leaders is in creating safe spaces for our students to thrive. All of our youth are at risk – at risk for greatness. It is our mission to support our young people so they can discover their own greatness.

ArtWell is excited to move forward in this area and strengthen our programming and pedagogy through formalizing partnerships with like-minded leaders and organizations such as Dr. Sandra Bloom and the Sanctuary Institute, The Health Federation, Turning Points for Children, Northeast Treatment Center, CHOP’s Violence Prevention Initiative, and leaders within the Philadelphia School District who recognize the importance and urgency to integrate trauma-informed practice into our education system through the arts.

The integration of trauma-informed practice not only serves the students, but also the providers. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future estimates one-third of all new teachers leave after 3 years, and 46% leave within 5 years; and the situation is bleakest within urban school districts. In response, ArtWell’s Professional Development has expanded in recent years to provide replenishing and reflective experiences for educators and youth-serving providers who are working to create sanctuaries in their own classrooms. We know ArtWell Professional Development fills a need that is otherwise unmet for our youth-serving adults. As one ArtWell PD participant stated, “There are very few innovative trainings out there that combine different disciplines. When I heard about ArtWell’s PD, I was excited because ArtWell’s approach is refreshing; it gives educators the tools to create something with their students, develop skills, and create a community.”

On Tuesday, May 5th, ArtWell is pleased to present Caregivers, a film created by Vic Compher, that spotlights personal experiences of secondary trauma and compassion fatigue and introduces models for caring for our caregivers. Please join us for the film screening and a conversation around this topic facilitated by experts in the field. RSVP and additional information can be found on Eventbright.

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Images: Student Threshold Projects: students create flags (top) and birds that display their wishes and needs for a safe space. Students use their thresholds to transform their classrooms into a sanctuaries for ArtWell classes.

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ArtWell Project Builds Community through Partnership with Al Aqsa, Mural Arts, & Area Partners

Al Aqsa Mosque Finished Full Building Photo

 

Philadelphia has a long rich history of diversity of people and origin. The city has recently seen a flurry of activity as Philly has been recognized as a top city in the world for art, food, shopping, and much more. But our city’s value lies not only in commerce, but in richness of culture. It is with emotional and cultural intelligence that Philadelphia will overcome and creatively solve challenges.

In the shadow of AFDI’s anti-Muslim ads running on SEPTA buses in April and as our world continues to shrink as we connect in greater ways, projects that build community and understanding in the face of differences are more important than ever. ArtWell is honored to be invited to partner for one such illuminating project to strengthen understanding and friendship in the South Kensington community.

In 2004 ArtWell and the Mural Arts Program initiated a powerful collaboration, which brought together youth and community from Al Aqsa Islamic Academy, La Salle Academy, and Moffett Elementary Schools as well as neighbors and volunteers from all over the city. This project created a safe space for participants to build bridges across faith and cultural boundaries in a post-9/11 environment. Through school-based and community arts workshops we together created a large-scale mosaic Doorways to Peace and painted mural, transforming Al Asqa and all who took part.

Now ten years later, Al Aqsa invited ArtWell, the Mural Arts Program, and the original school partners to engage again. A new project will enable us to deepen connections and understanding of our neighbors through continuing to create art and poetry together for another mural installation at Al Aqsa Islamic Society. The aim of this project is to activate the power of art to open doors to strengthened relationships and understanding.

Joe Brenman, ArtWell Artist in Residence and South Kensington resident, agrees, “Its really great to be working with Al Aqsa again. Creating art is such a fun and enjoyable way to bring people together and to help make connections with people from different backgrounds, and this work is especially important now when there are some people promoting hate and divisiveness.”

Adab Ibrahim, Community Organizer, ArtWell Board Member, and project liaison worked on the original project in 2004 and is again offering her talents to the second phase, “I love the idea of reconnecting with the community and school partners over 10 years later! I believe we planted the seeds of creativity, friendship, and art-making and now we will continue to cultivate them. These opportunities enable individuals to reach across various boundaries i.e., cultural/racial/religious boundaries to discover the humanity in each of us. What is even more amazing is that Artwell is a neighbor, and not just a community partner this time! Clearly, this entire project demonstrates the power and beauty of relationship building through the arts.”

Dr. Cathy Cohen, ArtWell Education Director has brought together many of the same artists and community organizers to spearhead the next phase of this project. She continues to feel the impact of the original project and looks forward to using art and poetry once again to strengthen the community, “The seeds we planted are blossoming into a garden that bears the fruit of our friendship, understanding and common need for a healthy, growing community!”

Love this project? Be a part by painting a tile at the ArtWell Festival on Sunday, May 31st!

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Photos: Top: Al Aqsa Islamic Society after 2004 Doorways to Peace.

Bottom: Al Aqsa Islamic Society before and after the project.

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