The National Youth Art Movement Against Gun Violence (NYAM) mission is to provide youth all across America in neighborhoods besieged by gun violence with an opportunity to make their mark on the issue by using their city as a blank canvas to communicate beyond their communities the impact of gun violence on their lives and to support the growth of these emerging artists' careers as artist activists and thought leaders.
To this end, NYAM launched a youth-led, outdoor art tour with 16 interactive commercial billboards in locations across the north and south sides of Chicago in the summer/fall of 2017 that used Augmented Reality to engage residents in immersive stories that express the poignant reality of gun violence from the perspective of the city's youth. NYAM plans to make this interactive, outdoor art tour an annual event in Chicago, and like charter schools, each year add a cohort of new youth artists in another city suffering from the epidemic of gun violence to work together locally and nationally as a connected youth movement.
The NYAM project has two major goals: 1) raise youth to the position of thought leaders on the issue of gun violence by giving them the opportunity to use their talent as visual artists to transform commercial billboards into grassroots, counter narratives and 2) reshape people's relationship to their city, their neighbors, and the youth using tech-enabled art and activism as catalysts for civic engagement and empowerment.
NYAM's 2017 launch in Chicago was implemented in four stages.
Stage 1: The Call for Art was sent to teachers, mentors, or advisors who work with youth ages 12-to-25 and presented in the form of a art therapy exercise. The call for art, developed by certified art and expressive arts therapists, instructed adult facilitators on how to lead students to reflect on and unpack the deeply layered ways in which violence, either experienced or perceived through a sense of fear or worry, affects life in Chicago for everyone. These learning experiences in diverse spaces across the city culminated into poignant 2-dimensional artworks that represents the unique experience of each youth.
Stage 2: The youth selected for billboard display in the outdoor art tour (NYAM Cohort 1) participated in workshops during the summer to hone their art skills and knowledge of art activism. Emphasis was placed on the power of symbolism and the role of art in public spheres.
Stage 3: The outdoor art tour utilized a web app (https://vamonde.app.link/zGvlV6qJYF) and Augmented Reality technology that gave everyone in the city the opportunity to discover its 16 interactive billboards and engage in immersive visual storytelling while navigating through the streets of Chicago. NYAM's art and technology experience culminated in a call-to-action for each participant to become civic leaders in local youth and gun violence prevention organizations.
Additionally, NYAM Emerging Artists performed and participated in the following events and efforts:
Noble Peace Prize Forum (Exhibit and Session Presentation)
Peace Concert (Spoken Word/Performance Art)
Creative Tech Expo (Vendor)
Moms Demand Action Las Vegas Vigil Chicago (Spoken Word)
Cause the Effect Young Feminist's Conference (Vendor)
ILGVP Gun Dealer Licensing Act Phone Banking (Volunteers)
Stage 4: NYAM is planning and prepping with its Chicago Cohort 1 to extend opportunities to youth beyond Chicago.
Critical Reflection Theory (CRT). The stages of the project were designed using the CRT framework of What? So what? Now what? Each NYAM project stage corresponds with the CRT's reflection question sequence.