Art Imitates Life with Fresh Start Students

April 3, 2014

Living Classrooms’ Fresh Start students are creating art showcasing the struggles and triumphs of their lives for an art display at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). They have been working with a grad student, Gracie Xavier, on her thesis regarding male survival. She has been working to create a digital survival guide for young African-American men between the ages 16-24 as part of her thesis for a MFA in Community Art at MICA. The students have been creating steps for a ladder, drawing images on each step depicting a different stage of their lives. Many students dedicated a ladder step to the beginning of change in their lives: the time they began the Fresh Start program with Living Classrooms. Low-educational attainment, incarceration, high unemployment and the residual effects of institutional racism all impact the social and economic viability of African-American males. These statistics are repeated locally in Baltimore where, as documented by the U.S. Census Bureau, one in four Baltimore residents lives in poverty. It is especially challenging for the city’s African-American males. For many of these young men, having access to important resources, including positive role models, is a challenge. To address these issues, Gracie Xavier is creating the Live, Learn, Earn and Grow Survival Guide, a web-based resource kit designed to assist young African-American males in Baltimore to navigate the economic and social challenges associated with living in often volatile communities. She utilizes her extensive experience as a social worker and graphic designer to collaborate with community partners to collect personal narratives that will motivate young men to thrive while linking them to essential resources to prosper in their communities. The exhibition opening reception will be on Friday April 11th from 5pm-7pm: Meyerhoff Gallery MICA Fox Building 1301 West Mount Royal The art will be on display through April 20th.