BRONX, N.Y. — A pop of color. And a moment in time. It's something these young artists hope is a movement toward change.
“This is going to send a message to the community of, ‘Hey, look. We value our space,’” Shaunese Crawford, the photography teaching assistant, commented.
In a neighborhood so often plagued by violence and trash; Bronx community organizers moved to create a healing initiative. Their focus: not only to involve young people, but to give them a chance to lead and inspire change.
Through a partnership between the New York City Housing Authority and the Bronx Community Justice Center, thirty teens from the McKinley and Forest Houses came together for a 10 week photography course called Leadership Works.
“I do believe there’s power in art and I just want them to be able to see the pictures and be able to change themselves,” said Rachale Williams, a teen participating in the program.
Shaunese Crawford, a Bronx native herself, taught the class. Giving these kids not only a useful skill but an outlet to express themselves through their personal lens while adding beauty to their neighborhood.
“They wanted to rejuvenate their community. So this was the start of them really–like the installation says–bringing back the light,” said Crawford.
Now, proudly displayed for anyone to see, the photography cast a light on what’s on the top of these young artist’s minds.
“One of my favorite artworks is me with my fist up. I wanted to display Black Lives Matter, because in today’s society Black people are going through racial injustice and we need to raise awareness for them,” said Jayden Urena, another teen participating in the Leadership Works program.
The Leadership Works kids hope those passing by will be able to see themselves and their community represented wholly within the works.
“There’s so much culture here. There’s so much beauty here. There’s so much creativity here and this is just the beginning of us showcasing that, but with this next generation of creators and leaders,” said Crawford.
“I hope a lot of people see it so it can bring the message to them that we need to stop shooting and start living,” said Urena.
So, for being the spark to bring back the light, the youth of Leadership Works are our New Yorkers of the Week.