Youth Partners from the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network’s showed their true colors and impressive talent during our first interactive art show and reception.
Four young artists from the Intensive Prevention Services program presented “Straight Outta North Philly: The Individual Within the Environment” Art Exhibition Friday evening in the PAAN Annex.
The autobiographical exhibit featured more than 30 pieces of photography, abstract art, paintings, and drawings which focused on their life and various aspects of their North Philadelphia environment. About ten youth partners created the one-of-a-kind pieces.
IPS Youth Partner Michael chose to draw a family tree using charcoal.
“I really liked using charcoal. I mean it’s hot! Even though the tree looks dark, I look at it as a sign of strength. You have good and bad in all families,” said Michael. “I put all my focus into this and I took my time with it. I usually like to get things out the way but this proved to me if I’m patient, somethings are worth my time. I really like it.”
For several weeks our youth partners worked from Mark Goodwin’s “101 Ways of Seeing Yourself”; a how-to-book aimed at helping readers discover who they are in unique and fascinating ways. They took what they learned and began creating artwork. Several trips to the Philadelphia Art Museum and First Fridays in Old City Philadelphia offered even more inspiration and made for a well-rounded experience.
“Before this I never really did art,” said IPS Youth Partner Tymir who created several pieces in the show. “It never even came to my mind. Now, I like it because it’s fun and it’s always a meaning behind it.”
During the interactive show, attendees were able to write down their own interpretation of each piece and ask the artists questions about their work. Many of the pieces were on sale, others were auctioned off.
IPS Facilitator Lawanda Horton developed the project.
“When I encountered the arts, it sent me to school and turned my entire life around. I wanted them to know that there are 101 ways of seeing themselves no matter what they face and the arts can allow you to that,” said Horton.
While the art show is a great outlet for our youth it also comes at a price, according to PAAN Street Worker Sam White.
“They see everything; death, violence, destruction…drugs,” said White. “They are knowledgeable about it, they can articulate it better than most of us can and that was the challenge to get them to turn something negative into something positive.”
And they did just that, thanks to the power of art.