James Street Art Crawl: Silencing the Red & Positive Strokes Unite! (2010)

July 11, 2011 in Activism, Core Projects

If you missed the June 10th James Street Art Crawl, you really missed a great event! The CORE (Community Organizations Reaching Everyone) Centre in the former St. Helen school and McQuesten Community site, challenges secondary co-op students and re-engaged youth to design their own self-interest projects with an intent to give back to community. This past Friday, they demonstrated how effective and powerful this approach to learning can be.

The secondary co-ops and re-engaged youth studied the series of stats from the Hamilton Spectator’s Code Red series. The Hamilton Community Foundation also reported their findings through their Vital Signs Report. CORE Youth wants Hamilton to ‘Silence the Red’ so they found many artistic ways to make their voices heard on Friday: through dance, music, poetry, culinary arts, photography, improvisation and media arts.

Caroline Forde, a secondary co-op student, mentored by Kelly Carr, CORE Coordinator completed a proposal for the Hamilton Community Foundation Youth grant. The money they received allowed the CORE youth to plan a series of visual arts lessons for selected grades 7 and 8 students from St. Lawrence, St. Brigid, St. Columba, St. Ann (Hamilton), St. Patrick, Holy Name of Jesus, and St. David schools. These students came to our CORE Centre to learn new visual art techniques. Graphite sketching pencils, acrylic paints, canvasses and other supplies were purchased so that a truly remarkable piece of art could be completed. The elementary students chose ‘Positive Strokes’ as their theme. When elementary and secondary youth unite, magic occurs. The reaction of the crowd at the Art Crawl, together with the excitement of the youth, made for a high energy experience for all.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton loaned us painting easels, which were placed in the window of the studio featuring the work of the elementary budding artists. These magnificent pieces of art attracted many visitors to our Art Gallery Exhibit. The remaining acrylic art pieces were beautifully displayed on a brick wall of the studio, the space donated to us by Colina Maxwell of The Print Studio.

A VIP party was planned with the culinary art students circulating delicious appetizers, two rappers, Spencer Brooks from St. Jean de Brébeuf and Kyle Billings from St. Charles/Bishop Ryan performing to a packed house. School board officials, including Patricia Amos, Director of Education and Superintendents Corrado Ciapanna, Mary Cipolla and Ivana Fortino along with Principals Ed Bradica and Pat Akers and V-Ps Nadia Ciapanna and Toni Kovach all agreed that this was an evening of community coming together to celebrate arts education on the streets of Hamilton.

The studio was so packed that the live entertainers had to forfeit their poetry-driven creative dance written by Jesse Rodd from St. Jean de Brébeuf and several scripted narrations. The youth did not mind one bit considering there were so many expressive art pieces, photography collages, poetry and the antics of improvisation game show host Curtis Sheen. All of this kept hundreds of guests happily engaged throughout the evening. This entire process was a truly remarkable learning experience which included event planning as a whole new life skill. Our youth now have a better understanding about what is involved in entertaining and a much greater appreciation when their parents prepare for family gatherings. Hamilton has a new voice of young people who understand that only by “Silencing the Red’ can we begin to applaud our “Positive Strokes!’

Congratulations to everyone who planned, assisted, sponsored and funded the HWCDSB CORE Centre James Street Art Crawl. Because of you our youth shared in a memorable moment, never to be forgotten!

This story originally appeared on Monday 20 June 2011 on the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board website.