by Susan Colangelo, founding president of Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective
The Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to serving the St. Louis region through inventive, collaborative arts and culture. Members collect local stories, reframe and retell them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy. Professional artists work alongside urban teenage youth to create a platform for community engagement through an artistic lens and work to shift perceptions and realities by erasing real and perceived divisions.
Art is the catalyst for education, discussion, creation, and the open door for community voices. Artists and youth work together to find multi-layered ways to answer the problems identified as important by the teenagers such as implicit bias, bullying, and gun violence. Story Stitchers bring community members into the conversation through documented storytelling and amplify local voices through photography, videography, spoken word, and hip hop. The target population is teenage youth living in neighborhoods with high crime, gun violence and poverty rates in St. Louis city and county. In St. Louis in the past 5 years, 15,000 victims were murdered, shot or robbed at gunpoint. The desired impact is to embolden youth and the adults around them, to become more educated about gun violence prevention and more organized and engaged as active citizens.
Filmed and edited by Charlotte Gordon, Washington University student and KUUMBATV chair, 2015/16
Project leaders include Susan Colangelo, MFA, founding president of the Stitchers with 30+ years of social practice in the arts and Jamie K.P. Dennis, Story Stitchers music director and director of the Save Our Sons at the Urban League of St. Louis.
Not Another One! Teens and Police Finding Ways to Work Together to Combat Gun Violence is a videotaped discussion about gun violence prevention led by teenagers with police and civic leaders. Stitchers Teen Council Co-Chairs Emeara and Taron, both seniors in high school, skillfully led a group of St. Louis teens and adults in a discussion on gun violence prevention Saturday, November 14th, 2015 at Washington University’s Des Lee Gallery.
Not Another One! Teens and Police Finding Ways to Work Together to Combat Gun Violence is online and can be downloaded by permission for educational use. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A printed transcript of the discussion is being produced (featuring a foreword by Brown School assistant professor Jason Q. Purnell, PhD, MPH), and will be available soon. The songs Not Another One! by Stitchers Teen Council and Gunshots!! by K.P. Dennis are available from iTunes. Not Another One! discussion was sponsored by the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts and the Des Lee Gallery, the Institute for Public Health and the Gun Violence Initiative at Washington University. Story Stitchers educational programs are also sponsored in part by the Regional Arts Commission.
Saturday, May 7 at 11am | Kranzberg Arts Center (501 N. Grand Blvd.)
The St. Louis Story Stitchers will present a free live performance entitled Not Another One!, based on the Collective’s ongoing work on gun violence prevention as part of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival. Along with storytelling, music and a video screening, the Collective will add a new dimension through a live onstage interview of invited senior citizens in collaboration with the Celebrating Art for Senior EngAGEment Festival. K.P. Dennis will perform his song Gunshots!! dedicated to Jacobi Taylor, his nephew, who was lost to senseless gun violence at age 21 in 2015.
Thursday, June 2 at 11am | Storefront Studio (616 N. Skinker Blvd.)
The public is invited to visit the Storefront Studio from 11:00a to 3:00p to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Let Stitchers Teens tweet out your #wearorange portrait, step into the audio recording booth and share why YOU care about gun violence prevention. This program is presented in collaboration with the St. Louis Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety’s #wearorange. Free gun locks will be available, provided by Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice.
Visit storystitchers.org and follow the blog to learn more.
This post is part of the May 2016 “Public Health & The Arts” series of the Institute for Public Health’s blog. Subscribe to email updates or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive notifications about our latest blog posts.Tags: art, crime, gun violence, music, phandarts, youth