Not too long ago, we got to attend the exhibit introducing "Words Scar." to the world, and got up close with the photographer/Master Mind--Nikki B. Her exhibit shined light on the power words have on our youth and community as a whole. This journey through photographs put a lot of things in perspective and called for greater attention to bullying.
Now, we are so proud to announce the transformation of an amazing photography exhibit into a community program. Nikki is putting the camera in the hands of the youth--teaching them about visual art, and enriching their lives all at once.
Find out more about the program and its partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, straight from the woman behind the movement.
Enjoy these great pictures from the announcement event, too!
1. What made you decide, or know you had to turn this into something even bigger than the exhibit?
I've always done things BIG.....it's just in me. I have never been satisfied with being good or doing good...but I give my BEST all the time! After the Exhibition I wasn't sure if it was a success. I kinda got down on myself, but then I took a moment to read all the encouraging words people wrote for me in these little cute books my bf made. I remember sitting on a plane to ATL reading each note and it was then through their words that I experienced the power of words. It was then that I knew "Words Scar." was appreciated and needed. I mean so many people wrote in those books. People I knew, and those I didnt. But the fact that they took the time to express how they felt was amazing. I cried that day. lol
2. What were the first steps you took to develop the program?
I was in San Diego when I developed my first program, "Words Scar." Workshop. After speaking with a friend (Fellow Providence St. Mel Graduate) she encouraged me to do something more with it, maybe a workshop. The light bulbs went off and I spent a week in Cali creating "The Words Scar." Workshop.
3. How did Chicago Public Schools (CPS) get involved?
I shared the "Word Life" Art Therapy Program with a few of my friends that work in CPS as teachers or principals. Then finally, I worked up the nerve to ask one person, for access to their network. So in short, I knew the right person, that knew the right person, that turned out to really be THE RIGHT PERSON.
4. What is your vision for the program?
My vision is to enrich the lives of Chicago inner city youth by introducing them to Art (Photography) as a method of self expression. My goal is to FREE them of the pain, hurt, and hopelessness that seem inevitable for many and replace it with joy, laughter, HOPE, Big Dreams and Drive to accomplish them. At the end of the day, I just want to give our youth another option, a FRESH perspective on life. Teach them that speaking and thinking positive is more than a action, it leads to results.
5. What can the neighborhood expect from this program, and how soon?
The neighborhood can expect CHANGE!! Kids walking around their community with a purpose now, with cameras, capturing the essence of their hood, their community and life. I pray that the neighborhood and community leaders support these kids as they learn to use their creativity to self express instead of a gun to kill.
The partnership is with the Inter-Faith Division of CPS. I appreciate the opportunity to work with these churches and Pastors. I know that their committment to God along with my Faith in God will bring about CHANGE in our Chicago Youth.
7. What else can we expect from Words Scar? (as if this isn't amazing enough :))
Expect nothing from me and everything from GOD. I'm still in awe at where I am in life. SO Expect God to do some SUPERNATURAL STUFF with and through Words Scar!!! I pray for more supporters, more kids to join the movement, that the MOVEMENT becomes just that-- a MOVEMENT.
8. What do you want people to know about Words Scar, CPS, and their partnership?
I want people to know: 1. God did it!!! 2. This is an initiative that will move our kids from hopeless thinking to Dreams of Achieving Greatness despite their surroundings, economic stature, race, upbringing and etc. Art isn't just making a mess and splashing paint here or there or snapping a photo. Art is FREEDOM with a purpose!! It's the only place that your not judged but critized. And constructive criticim has always been good...it does nothing but make you and your craft/gift better. This sense of FREEDOM is what Chicago kids need right now. They walk around with so many emotions, so many thoughts with no one to talk to. No one to help them process these emotions. Art, is that place where you are free to let go, to tell your story with no interruptions. I don't expect them all to become photographers, but I expect God to use my gift to simply free Chicago kids of the burdens they carry. I want to see Chicago youth learning the fundamentals of photogrpahy and then taking the photos that capture their essence, their feelings, their needs, their thoughts, their ideas. Through art they can just simply BE!!!
I want Chicago Youth to KNOW and SEE the MIRACLES in our city. Rappers, Singers, and Athletes aren't the only ones that made it. Here in Chicago are a number of great entrepreneurs and professionals that weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth but THEY MADE IT. When our kids have access to these types of people it encourages them, it gives them a tangible reference. Unlike the videos and reality TV Shows that glorify money and power, but never show what it really takes to get there and stay there, Words Scar will.
Life is about sharing your story so that someone else can be inspired to keep pushing...and "Words Scar." is a creative way of doing just that. Speaking the unspoken truth of many!
What an amazing program and movement! We are so excited to support Words Scar, and hope you will, too.
Join the Movement TODAY!! www.wordsscar.com Nikki is still looking for kids, parents, adults, teachers, etc. that want to share their stories.
*Tuesday Tops will return next week.