Art for a Change

Taos, NM 2011

images-5A social science peace studies class from the UNM Taos branch responded to the high level of violence, gang behavior and suicide among men between 12 and 22 by using an SMMF grant. They received $1000.00 to support a project for selected at risk participants from this population. The young men selected created graffiti art to tell the stories of their journeys from violence to nonviolence. These pictures were painted at a weekend community event in “AVSpace” a facility set up for young people to gather, perform and share their talents. The painted, told their stories, had refreshments and then partied.

Many of the participants got into the ‘groove’ and requested that the event become a regular feature where they might document the changes taking place in their lives and the hope they saw in a less violent future.

Words are hard to find for many young men who’ve learned all they know on the street, from poor role models or with absent adults altogether. For these men at risk for failure, violence, poverty, or prison an audience that cares is often hard to find. A UNM Peace Studies class found a way to communicate that hit the spot. The graffitti they produced in Art for A Change helped them tell the stories that led them from a path leading only deeper into violence to looking at becoming a member and a more productive part of their communities.