Archive for August, 2011

Vision: We Got An App 4 That!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

San Francisco Teen Mural Assistants gather with MMAP staff and display their certificates of completion of the Teen Mural Program proudly.

After eight weeks of research and creative expression, the San Francisco Teen Mural Project culminated in a spectacular mural unveiling on Thursday, August 11. In the courtyard of Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA of San Francisco, over 100 people including the Teen Mural Assistants, friends, family, and members of the San Francisco community gathered to celebrate the teens’ many artistic achievements. In addition to the mural unveiling, the event included dance, Hip Hop performances, spoken word, and t-shirt design.

Two teens performed impressive breakdancing moves to kick off the evening. Four youth then performed a skit that explained the meaning of the mural “Vision: Claiming Our Voice and Building Our Future.” First, they explicated how their use of color and light conveys their vision of a bright future of peace, unity, and justice in San Francisco. Next, the youth explained how images of headphones, light bulbs, and a microphone represent the power of art and technology to turn vision into reality. Lastly, they revealed how the iconic bridge symbolically connects the youth to their communities’ legacies in San Francisco and around the globe.

Teen Mural Assistants from the Hip Hop cohort performed two original songs and a spoken word piece, all of which they wrote and recorded themselves. Through poignant lyrics, the youth articulated the proud love they feel towards their city and their determination to spur positive social change in their community. The energy of the performances left the audience dancing and singing along with the youth.

In addition to the mural, the SF TMA's unveiled positive community minded original songs. Jessielina performs her duet with Jazmine "My City's Beauty (Hello)", which combined a melodic chorus with powerful spoken word verses.

Troy performs his verse in the Hip Hop cohort's second song of the day "App 4 That", a hip hop song that touched on metaphoric applications for positive visions for the community and an end to oppression.

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Discovering the Powerful Evolution of our Connections

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Youth in GAP gather with MMAP staff to celebrate the completion of the summer project.

The Graffiti Arts Project (GAP) Summer 2011 came to an end on Friday August 5th as the Mural Music and Arts Project and over one-hundred and seventy five community members gathered at East Palo Alto’s City Hall to view and celebrate the graffiti art completed by East Palo Alto youth this summer. During the eight-week program, thirty GAP participants studied principles of artistic design, practiced spray technique, and learned to use graffiti in positive, responsible ways. In addition to teaching youth to express themselves creatively, the GAP program also engaged youth to connect with their communities and cultural histories. In the program’s culminating project, the young artists completed three graffiti art pieces –“Discover”, “Evolve”, and Connect” — to showcase their new skills and knowledge. At the unveiling event, GAP participants came to the stage to explain the meaning of their artwork and to highlight how each piece incorporates colors and patterns from the Latino, Pacific Islander, and African American artistic traditions, respectively. These three pieces will be displayed for the community at the East Palo Alto Library.

"EVOLVE", one of three of the graffiti art pieces that will hang in East Palo Alto's Public Library.

"EVOLVE", one of three graffiti pieces that now is displayed in East Palo Alto's Public Library.

After the artists spoke, Chief Ronald L. Davis, East Palo Alto’s Chief of Police, delivered a powerful keynote address, congratulating GAP participants on their creative achievements and expressing his continued strong support for the program.  The Mural Music and Arts Project and the Police Department have collaborated closely throughout GAP’s five-year history. The Department helps fund the program, ensuring that MMAP can continue to provide the opportunity to East Palo Alto youth each summer, and also allows youth to fulfill community service credit through GAP.  In his speech, Chief Davis encouraged youth to continue making positive contributions to the community, and he emphasized the importance of the police and local youth supporting one another. The Mural Music and Arts project extends its deepest thanks to Chief Davis for speaking at this event and to the Department for its continued partnership in the Graffiti Arts Program.

"DISCOVER", inspiration for the youth to discover their full potential.

After the keynote, each GAP participant received a certificate of program completion and a shirt, designed by the youth themselves. The unveiling celebration ended with joyful dancing to the beat of live music by The Vintage Music Collective.

The MMAP staff was proud to congratulate each of the participants involved in the Graffiti Arts Program and glad to celebrate a summer full of learning, creativity, and community building. Thank you to all who came out to support our youth!

"CONNECT", the third and final graffiti piece created by the youth this summer, representative of the strong inter-cultural connections they made with one another and will continue to make.

MMAP is a Family

Friday, August 5th, 2011

MMAP is proud to have begun its work in East Palo Alto in 2001. Since this time, community safety has been a central theme in the mission of our program’s work. With tireless collaboration between efforts from law enforcement, community organizations, political entities, and community members, EPA has drastically reduced its crime rate so much so that in 2010, it had its lowest murder rate in 20 years. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, violence has risen, breaking the heart of our community and affecting- directly & indirectly- the youth of EPA.

Last week, MMAP reached out to Alejandro Vilchez, a seasoned veteran at addressing violence in communities like EPA and equipping youth with alternate solutions to combatting violence in their own community, and invited him to the MMAP house to speak with our youth. Not only did “Mr. Homie” educate our TMA’s about the ills of violence to our bodies, our spirits and our communities, but he also empowered us with skills to “fight” this violence in our minds and out. The entire experience was beyond inspirational to both staff and students, and as a MMAP family, we thank Alejandro Vilchez for his time, energy, and his expertise to our cause. One love.

Alejandro Vilchez poses with our TMA's in front of the MMAP house

Artistic Expression is an Understatement

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

“Working on the mural I have learned about how to paint but also to trust other people to do good work, as we all work toward finishing the same piece of art and want to take pride in it.”(Lucia Gonzalez). As the Teen Mural Program in East Palo Alto comes to an end with only three weeks left until the unveiling on Friday August 26th at the Mural Music and Arts Headquarters (2043 Euclid Ave), the youth are seeing all of their hard work come together as they express themselves in a magnitude of ways.

The muralists are working diligently to complete the mural in time for unveiling and seem to be right on schedule as they finish up the “opposite colors” step in the process. As the youth learned earlier this summer “opposite colors” adds a foundation for the final color palette of the mural and helps enhance the final layers. However, the muralists have found that painting the mural has not only taught them about color coordination, but also about working together as muralists.

Imelda and Lucia working together on a portion of the mural.

The youth involved with History through Hip-Hop draw inspiration from the imagery going into the mural to create the lyrics that will go to two musical pieces to follow themes of Vision and how the youth’s vision can affect change in the community. Expansion of vocabulary and how to create “clean lyrics” have proven to be essential lessons as they brainstorm inspirational lines to perform to the community at the unveiling. Ashon Hunter, a veteran member of the HHH program speaks best to this by stating, “it is important to develop lyrics and create depth in those words to convey a message in the music as a means of inspiring change, and that is what MMAP is all about.”

Carla brainstorming inspirational vocabulary to go into her Hip Hop piece.

Additionally, more youth are expressing themselves in the project through the art of dance. The Teen Mural Project’s Dance team will perform two dances at the unveiling and are hard at work as they master the moves and perfect placement. This week the youth have been working on “blocking” where they go over each move step by step to be sure it is crisp and in sync. A member of the dance team speaks with excitement as he describes the dances, “This year we are working on two pieces, both emphasizing footwork and precision, one is a House music piece while the other is Shuffling,” Adrian Johnson.

"Being a part of the dance team in the program has helped me improve and grow personally as I work to master breakdancing," Angel Gonzales.

Seeing all the work come together has been amazing, but even more so is witnessing so many youth in East Palo Alto from different backgrounds and cultures overcome their differences and unify for a common goal.