All posts by Shaneez Tyndall

Youth Arts Showcase – CCTV Media Institute

Earlier this year, Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) hosted their 28th Summer Media Institute. During the program, 34 teens from Cambridge took part in a six-week work experience and media production program collaborating on group projects focused on amplifying or giving a “voice to the voiceless.”

Students are paid to work as producers over the summer through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program in Cambridge, MA, and learn the skills necessary to produce high quality media reflecting the issues and stories most important to them. They participate in workshops throughout the summer to develop skills around cinematography, visual storytelling, audio, editing, and more.

Their final projects premiered at a public screening to a theater filled with family, friends, and community members, covering a wide range of issues including substance abuse, race, different family dynamics, and mental health.

Here is some of their work:

BOTTLE CAPS
Produced by Jermai Bethea, Kevin Fleurimond, and Bedilu Green

A love story, complicated by substance misuse, unfolds in this music video which tells the story of a relationship broken apart. Jermai, Kevin and Bedilu create a surreal world of flashbacks and dreamscapes to represent a young couple’s struggle to overcome the challenges brought on by addiction. Set to the song Bottle Caps by Jay Squared.

 

BLACK WOMEN
Produced by Allison Desir, Johnnie Williams, and Mattingly Wood

Tropes within the representation and image of black women in society are broken down by four women telling stories of how they experience stereotypes. Through the combination of personal interviews and examples from popular culture, Allison, Johnnie and Mattingly explore the effect of stereotypes of self-image, as well as how one can react or resist judgement, discrimination and misrepresentation.

 

LA CENA
Produced by Matthew Hernandez, Jaqui Hill, and Vera Targoff

 Shot as a combination of cinéma verité and home video, this portrait of different families takes a look at the differences between how families interact through the universal experience of eating dinner. Matt, Jaqui, and Vera create different scenes to tell the stories of family dynamics as they play out in their friends’ homes as well as their own.

 

IT’S NOT THAT EASY
Produced by Michelle Goldsmith, Jayde Haidar and Rachel Jacobs

Two teens talk about their experiences with mental health, and how they are impacted by the stigma surrounding anxiety and depression. Using animations to illustrate the emotions and experiences being described, Michelle, Jayde, and Rachel try to bring a better understanding to an issue that many teens experience, but not all teens understand.

The BEST Training

Participants seated in a circle at a BEST Initiative training

 

Under the facilitation of Eryn Johnson (Community Art Center) and Laurie Jo Wallace (Health Resources in Action), Mass Cultural Council hosted a training this fall for teaching artists and prospective creative youth development grantees to explore the BEST (Building Exemplary Systems of Training) Initiative’s “Creative Youth Approach”. The approach speaks to engaging students in their own creative learning and uses a series of prompts (e.g. leading a science experiment, designing and implementing a mural, planning a program budget, etc.) to challenge participants to think about where their practice stands on a spectrum from “adults should do alone” to “youth can do alone.”

A break-out group sits around a moderator at a BEST Initiative training
Levels of youth involvement in learning range from “no youth involvement” in the planning and implementation of their education to “self-management” where youth are empowered to set their own agendas and take charge of their own learning. Overall, participants agreed that while adults are great at providing structure or acting as consultants, youth have natural abilities to create, teach and be responsible for their own learning and creative process. When students are provided a space where they can be collaborative and experience an increased level of self-managing, incredible learning opportunities occur.

Health Resources in Action is a recognized leader in the out-of-school time community. They operate the BEST Initiative, the only region-wide professional skills training and credentialing system for youth workers and their supervisors.

As of December, 2015, BEST has trained more than 10,000 youth workers and provided technical assistance to their agencies, which serve more than 80,000 youth.

Learn More

Youth Arts Showcase – Andrine Pierresaint

Andrine Pierresaint performs her spoken word piece, “Knives” at the Amplify grants reception at the Mass State House earlier this year.

Andrine is a Youth Leader at Books of Hope, which is funded in part by Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach Program, and a 2018 Amplify Grant Recipient.

Andrine’s Artist Statement: Writing about my personal experience with sexual assault has been very difficult. But I saw a documentary  on UN peacekeepers in Port-au-Prince, and my family has had many experiences with sexual assault. Haiti has a long history of constantly being taken advantage of, by withholding this information, I feel I would’ve been contributing to it.

Teens Talk Youth Media at CCTV

Cambridge Community Television’s School Year Production Program (SYPP) provides teens with an opportunity to develop career readiness and media production skills every year from October to May. The program is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Fall Youth Employment Program, Cambridge Community Services’ CityLinks Program, and Cambridge Housing Authority’s Workforce Program.

Here’s what some participants had to say about their experience with the program:

Youth Art: West End House

Can’t Stop (acrylic paint and pencil on paper), a piece by West End House Boys and Girls Club youth artist Aleynna Quinones.“Can’t Stop” (acrylic paint and pencil on paper) is a piece by West End House Boys and Girls Club youth artist Aleynna Quinones.

On her inspiration for the piece, Aleynna says, “Malala is a well-known, current women’s and Muslim rights activist. The black censor bar over her mouth symbolizes her being silenced along with many other women and Muslims. The colorful geometric design in the background stands for Malala’s perseverance and strength.”

Artistic Noise’s Ubuntu

Each year, Artistic Noise creates group projects using the theme “Ubuntu”. A term from Southern Africa referring to humanity, Ubuntu means “I am because you are.” In other words, ‘my humanity is inextricably bound to yours.’ It is the belief in a universal bond that connects all humanity.

This year, two projects were created using this theme, “Our Common Thread” and “The Cards You’re Dealt.”

Our Common Thread

A wall hanging of a multi-colored, crocheted hexagon
Teaching Artists: Vanessa Ruiz, Minotte Romulus, Erin Porter

Youth Artists: Aaliyah, Angelina, Dani, Genea, Genezza, Kyla, Karmen, Jada, Jeante, Jenna, Shana, Taylah, Takari, Thiarra, Trinidy, Quasaia, Xianixia, Zainab, Zyikeya.

“[Ubuntu] is about how one person cannot live independently of their community. Ubuntu has us think about the impact we have on our communities and how they also influence who we are. We realized that there is a common thread weaving us all together so we made this piece by crocheting yarn. The interlocking loops of yarn represent all of us and our connections to one another.

 The center piece is a rainbow that represents the idea of Ubuntu. All its colors represent all the people and their differences and how beautiful diversity is. The triangles that surround the Ubuntu rainbow symbolize the words that represent what we want for ourselves and our neighbors. We chose the colors that we felt best matched those words and crochet the triangles. The colors of the triangles are part of the rainbow the way we feel that these words represent elements that are very important to Ubuntu”

Ubuntu: represented by the rainbow center

Believe: the blue triangle; Change: the multicolored blue and purple triangle; Peace: the purple triangle; Resilience: the multicolored red triangle; Growth: the green triangle; Community: the multicolored blue and green triangle

The Cards You’re Dealt

Four panels hanging on a gallery wall.
Teaching Artists: Vanessa Ruiz and Minotte Romulus

Interns: Sam Zicolella, Clara Clough

Art Therapist: Hannah Fulkerson

Youth Artists: Dani, David, Khaliel, Shana, Takari, Travin, Quasaia, Zyikeya

“The Cards You’re Dealt” is an eight by five foot painting, separated across four panels. The quadtych represents the uncontrollable aspects of our human existence and how we choose to live given those circumstances. The first three panels portray how we do not have the choice to pick our race or ethnic background, the socioeconomic status we are born into and how that affects our climb to the top, or many of the fortunate and unfortunate events that happen to us throughout our life. The last panel asks us to consider how we grow and develop as people in response to our circumstances and to also consider the circumstances of others.

The last panel is for reflection. You will find a rap composed by Takari (Artistic Noise youth artist) which speaks to some of the harshness in the world and encourages us to appreciate what we have and keep pushing til the end.

This is an interactive art piece that requests everyone’s participation. The artists encouraged you to take a gamble at each panel, think about the cards you’ve been dealt, and then share your thoughts with us on the last reflection panel by writing your response directly below Takari’s lyrics:

Gotta play the cards you’re dealt
Ain’t no choice in the pull
Young kid ain’t have no money he was chasing them bulls
Another kid up in the burbs he was swimming in pools
Kid back up in the city he was following fools
He was ducking from the people and rejecting them schools
Rich boy was talking back and he was thinking he’s cool
Met each other on the train and they was chattin’ it up
Tommy claiming that he bad but he ain’t backing it up
Davi, see the kid got future but he cracking it up
He’ll give anything and everything to turn back in time
Every time he leave without it put his life on the line
Tommy said you made ya choice now just let me make mine
Now the life that he was living wasn’t choice but by ways
He was tryna find the light in this world full of pain
Money can’t feed your emotion that’s the way he was feeling
Money buying fame that’s the reason he win
Don’t nobody really judge him in this world full of sin

This piece represents the understanding of Ubuntu as we should show love, care and understanding for one another because we do not get to choose the life we have, but are still responsible for the person we become.”

Youth artists standing in front of their installation, their faces obscured with yellow masks.

We Are a Part of OrigiNation

Last month, for the first time in over a decade, pop legend Janet Jackson launched an open call for dancers to audition for upcoming projects. Using various social media platforms (including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Musical.ly), dancers were encouraged to upload a 30-second video either performing famed Jackson choreography or freestyling to favorite songs by Jackson using hashtag #DanceWithJanet.

One of these submissions will include Boston’s very own OrigiNation. Here they are freestyling to Janet’s “Rhythm Nation”.

Origination, an Afrocentric performing arts organization, produces innovative and dynamic programs which motivate, challenge, and inspire youth of all levels of training to be the best they can be. Offering quality dance, theater arts, public speaking, and African history education programming, special emphasis is placed on teaching young people ages 2 to 18 the importance of self-respect, health, nutrition, civic engagement, education, self-esteem, as well as the extent of African influences on various contemporary art forms.

See more OrigiNation videos.

Even Pears Speak to Me

Andrine Pierresaint, sitting on the floor smiling, looking up, a small fluffy dog on her lap looks up at her. Photo: Alexandra Wimley.Meet Andrine Pierresaint, a longtime Books of Hope youth leader and a 15-year-old force to be reckoned with.

In her mid-teens, Andrine is not only an award-winning poet and  performer, but also a published author who facilitates a weekly series of creative writing workshops for a group of pre-teens at the Mystic Learning Center in Somerville, MA.

For Andrine, poetry has been an outlet for processing challenging emotions in a constructive way as well as a bridge to new worlds, connecting her to a community of mentors and young people from all walks of life.

“I have other people that I know that, like, if I want to talk about something I can talk to them about it, but the first person I’m going to think about to talk about poetry and what happened in an event and how I’m feeling about a poem, is Erich. He brought me to Louder Than A Bomb, and it was like a whole new world,” Andrine reflects.

Erich Haygun is the Program Director at Books of Hope (BOH), created in 1990 by Anika Nailah as a creative outlet for young people in and around the Mystic Learning Center. Specializing in poetry, BOH provides opportunities for young people to develop and refine their creative writing skills through peer mentorship.

Locally, BOH features their youth leaders at Boston Public Library’s Teen Central in Back Bay from 3-5pm the last Friday of every month. Additionally, BOH hosts “BEEN OUT HERE,” an all-ages open-mic and workshop every second Wednesday from 6-9pm at The Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville, in collaboration with The Center for Teen Empowerment. BOH also prepares a team of young people to compete in the annual statewide Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Slam. In her time at Books of Hope, Andrine has participated in the competition multiple times.

“Isn’t poetry the fuel that pulls you out of bed? Something you do by yourself, for yourself, for your team, for your family, with your dreams, despite money, despite anxiety? Isn’t poetry something you do with your heaviest heart, with your last breath, with your whole life?”

Andrine Pierresaint embracing in a hug. Photo: Alexandra Wimley.Profoundly supportive of young people, BOH also offers paid fellowships to participants who demonstrate a commitment to their craft and are dedicated to sharpening their skills. Through these fellowships, young people have access to writing workshops, publication and performance opportunities, professional development as well as peer-mentoring training. Young people learn skills to explore their creative paths while also gaining technical assistance and financial rewards for their hard work.

Andrine’s first book entitled Even Pears Speak to Me features a collection of poems that address race issues, fat-phobia, mental abuse, neglect and its lasting effects. Her poetry also explores familial relationships and the power of learning to love yourself.

More on Andrine’s journey:

 

Video by Alexandra Wimley and Breana Stephen.

Photos by Alexandra Wimley.