With teaching artist partner Jon Royal, I’ve conducted three Restorative Justice Arts Residencies in partnership with Davidson County Juvenile Gang Court, Metro Arts, and TPAC Education. These are nine week programs that dive deep into identity and creating a work of art — usually visual. We use dialogue, movement, and visual art to consider identity, circumstances, past, present, and future, and to create a work of art as a community service project.

Some of the artwork from Spring 2019 residency:

In March through early May of 2018, I partnered with teaching artists Jon Royal and Omari Booker. This group of six young men, some from rival gangs, worked together to create four large paintings that now hang in Magistrate Lewis’ courtroom.

In January and February of 2017, I was part of a group of teaching artists who went through training under Metro Arts for Restorative Justice Arts Projects. As part of a broad effort to move away from incarceration of juvenile offenders in Davidson County, Metro Arts funded Restorative Justice Arts Residencies in alternative schools, in the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center, in community programs, in court-ordered programs, and in some schools with a high population of students who have had some contact with Juvenile Court.

Examples of the collaborative art from 2018 RJAP with Grip/Gang Court and TPAC Education:

Participants invited (insisted) that community members at the share event add their own thoughts on what is needed to be successful in their “Book of Truths”

Crossing a Threshold:  Before and after GRIP Court:

In spring of 2017, teaching Artist Jon Royal and I partnered with TPAC Education and Juvenile Gang Court to offer a 6-week storytelling residency for young IMG_6702men and probation officers taking part together in arts workshops. This residency is the third part of a multi-tiered process for the participants that involves work with a probation officer and counseling services, 12 weeks of classes in the G.A.N.G. (Gentlemen and Not Gangsters) program, and community service. The experience has been a lesson of the power of community and the opportunities for reconciliation when young men, mentors, probation officers, family members, and teaching artists come together in dialogue and art-making around communication and our personal stories.

Jon and I also worked with a theater class at Stratford STEM High School in the Sprig of 2017 in a similar storytelling residency exploring personal identity and community, and giving back to the community.

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