The Street Art community donates time and art to a program that keeps teens out of jail in New York. An annual auction overflows with work by today’s Street Artists.
With the precision indicative of her architect training Rachel Barnard describes the art/criminal justice project for youth that she founded five years ago – which keeps growing thanks to artists’ help, community involvement, and an evermore engaged criminal justice system.
“Alternative Diversion,” she calls it, this court-mandated art program that prosecutors can offer to New York teens as a sentencing option instead of incarceration or doing community service.
“What we’re talking about here are 16 and 17 year-olds in Brooklyn who have been arrested for things like jumping the (subway) turnstyle or having a small amount of marijuana on them or petty larceny,” Barnard explains in a new video for YNY.
“Say you get a misdemeanor record at 16,” she says, “What that means is that you’re less likely to get employment, even though you are more likely to be poor and need employment more than most other 16 year-olds.”
Each year the programs called Young New Yorkers (YNY), which Barnard founded, work directly with these youth to redirect their route in life, to provide guidance, foster self-analyzation and to set productive goals for the future.
To some observers it may sound ironic that Street Artists, many of whom have done illegal artworks on walls throughout New York City, are the principal artists pool who are donating their time and talent here to the fundraising auction in lower Manhattan.
With high profile names like Shepard Fairey, Daze, Dan Witz, the Guerrilla Girls and Kara Walker on this years list of artists donating to the auction, the program boasts a cross section of established and emerging Street Artists, graffiti artists, culture jammers and truth tellers who heartily support this program that since 2012 has given more than 400 city youth a second chance.
But then we think more about the history and psychological/anthropological makeup of the Street Art scene and it makes perfect sense: What segment of the arts community has such a rich history of activism, self-directed industry, challenging the norms of society, using public space for intervention – and a penchant for consciousness-raising?
Even after 50 plus years of youth culture in love with graffiti and Street Art these artists and their practice are seen as outside the proper curriculum of many universities with art programs and museums have arduous internal debates about supporting exhibitions that are dedicated to Street Art and graffiti specifically.
This is precisely the kind of marginalized movement/ subculture that has necessarily thrived often with little encouragement or funding – overcoming the barriers to success that more institutionally recognized art movements don’t encounter. In fact, many have gone to jail for what they do.
Uniquely, Young New Yorkers continues to build its partnerships with artists, teachers, lawyers, volunteers and several agencies within the criminal justice system, including criminal and community courts, the District Attorney’s Office and the Legal Aid Society. The program’s art shows mounted by graduates are frequently attended by members of the justice system as well and art becomes a facilitator of strengthened community ties.
BSA has supported YNY every year since its first auction benefit and this year is no exception. Please go to Paddle 8 to see the items for sale or better yet, go to the auction in person. We stopped by while they were hanging the show yesterday and we were able to take a few shots for you to see what’s up for grabs.
Young New Yorkers Silent Art Auction Honoring Actor and Activist Michael K. Williams
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 548 West 28th Street New York, NY 6:00 VIP hour with Michael K. Williams (Star and Super Star Tickets) 7:00–10:00 party (Regular tickets)
More information at YoungNewYorkers.org http://www.youngnewyorkers.org/
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