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A mural created by seven District of Columbia youth was created to show what they wanted to see in their future neighborhoods.

The mural unveiling on October 21 at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center was the culmination of a series of workshops where the youth discussed their wishes for the future of their communities through the My Future Neighborhood project, a grant partnership between the District of Columbia Housing Authority and CulturalDC. 

DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett encouraged the middle schoolers to continue using the arts and other tools they learned through the partnership to achieve their dreams and help make their future communities thrive.

“You have to reach your fullest potential if you want to be an architect or a community advocate,” he said. “If that is your dream, don’t let anyone discourage you.”

Each young artist explained their thoughts behind their portion of the mural, which read like a dinner table. Angell’s piece represented black empowerment. Brittany wanted to express that community should be together. Teresa added a word element to represent history. Antoine focused on buildings in his community design.

“DCHA supports you in your dreams and ambitions,” said DCHA Community Navigator Deborah Jackson. “You all came together to create something beautiful.”

Each artist submitted drawings through a citywide competition that culminated in imagery and words illustrating their vision, as part of five workshops led by public art consultant Tonya Jordan and local artists, Marta Perez Garcia and Sydney Buffalow. 

“The thing that strikes me when I see the result of their collaboration is the strength of community that prevails when our youth come together to express love of self, love of family, and love of art. It always rises through the voices of our youth,” said CulturalDC Executive Director Tanya Hilton. “We are just honored to be able to collaborate with the housing authority to bring our voices together to have this banner to share across all communities.” 

During the workshops there were discussions about social justice issues and ambitions as rightful citizens for building stronger and sustainable communities within the realm of affordable housing. Using these discussions helped to shape the young artists visions for the final product. While many of them had no prior artistic experience, they learned and embodied the skills of organization, collaboration, concept building, and basic visual arts techniques and mural making methods. 

“I am honored to work with DCHA. It is definitely our mission to provide mentorship with children and artists who have experience with public art. This is a possible career they could have in the District. There is a huge need for public artists in D.C.,” said Sam Jones, director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at CulturalDC.

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Last modified: 10/30/2017 3:19:51 PM