All posts by Shaneez Tyndall

“La Mesa” Project

Check out META Fellow Nicolas Perez’s “La Mesa” project:

“La Mesa” is a video series that is inspired by NPR’s Tiny Desk series. The goal of this video series is to provide a recording and performance space for rising artist to share their music. There is a brown table (la mesa) in the video that all performer sign at the end of their performance. This table serves as a symbol of community amongst all of the performers who use this space.

The first episode features youth from Hyde Square Task Force’s music program performing an arrangement of a song they learned during band rehearsals.

See all 3 episodes of “La Mesa” on YouTube

Visualizing ‘What Music Means to Me’

As part of their 2018 Amplify grant, the Boston City Singers Tour Choir created visual art works reflecting on the theme “What Music Means to Me”.

Using various mediums –  paint, chalk, water colors, crayons, glitter and other materials – the choir stepped outside of their musical comfort-zone to showcase their love for their craft. Each member of the choir presented their pieces to the rest of the group and selected their top 12 favorites.

Works were photographed and made into a banner which was displayed at the Dorchester Public Library, local area cafes, and the Strand Theatre throughout the summer.

Bold colors, distinct patterns, and powerful words centered around themes of unity, acceptance, love, and hope made up the final collection of pieces. Here are a few:

Drawing by Meredith, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“I drew a tree with leaves that are flags, and wind blowing the leaves. The tree represents the world, and the leaves are the countries in it. The wind blowing the leaves represent music, because no matter where we come from, music is something we all have in common. The flags I used for leaves are all the countries I have sung songs from in Boston City Singers. Because of Boston City Singers and the music we sing, I feel more connected to the rest of the world.”
– Meredith, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Gita, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“Music continuously evolves but what was before never disappears. Like the stems and branches of a tree, music is growing from the earliest prehistoric times to modern popular and alternative music. It grows and grows”
– Gita, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Kristen, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“My drawing represents what music means to me because it shows that music is a universal language. I drew the people around the world being connected with lots of colorful music notes. While I was in South Africa, I saw firsthand how music connects people regardless of where they are from. At some of the schools we visited the kids did not speak English very well. One of the schools was for blind children. Despite the differences between us, we were able to bond over our common love of music.”
– Kristen, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Brooks, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“The idea was simple: a heart made of sheet music surrounded by colorful melted wax to show how music can bring love and hope and beauty in this crazy, busy, and intricate world. Few things went as planned. The crayons kept rolling off of the page. The melted wax went everywhere. But as soon as my fellow choir members saw me struggling, they pitched in. They helped me hold the crayons and the hair dryer to keep the wax from spraying everywhere. Music, and all forms of art, help bring people together, and that made my piece stronger than I could have ever hoped.”
– Brooks, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

 

Drawing by Emmie, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

“The Tree of Dreams & Song – I painted this while I was listening to the song “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman, and it is what music means to me. A million opportunities, a million songs, a million dreams. Every song that I listen to or sing holds a special place in my heart. This tree represents all the songs and all the dreams I’ve experienced  and ever will experience. A song is a magical thing. It can trigger so many emotions and hopes and dreams, that it’s almost impossible to comprehend. This is what music means to me.”
– Emmie, Boston City Singers Tour Choir

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.