No one was prepared to deal with the great travesty that took place on March 14, 2007, when our quiet, seaside streets were ransacked with a horrific incident of gang-related violence. The community was even less prepared to learn that eight of the nine participants were teenagers. Although one stabbing is neither indication of a severe gang problem nor a litmus test for Santa Barbara’s safety as a city, the event incited an onslaught of blame-game editorials, extremist rhetoric, and verbal distancing from the likes of those “Children from the Westside.” A little more than a year later, it’s good to know that now we’re a saner, more resolute community, thanks, in large part, to organizations like Project Renaissance. Project Renaissance is an arts and advocacy program serving Santa Barbara’s youth by working to get teens out of gangs and dispel myths about truancy. It is designed to give “at risk” teens a space to learn about themselves, discuss social topics, and engage in the art-making process. And on Thursday, April 3, this nonprofit will host a collaborative art exhibit titled From Streets to Studio at Antioch University (801 Garden St.). Below are just a few reasons why you should make your reservations today:
1) Fine Arts: Through Project Renaissance, teen artists participate in leadership training workshops, educational symposiums, filmmaking, painting, and field trips that teach Santa Barbara youths how to use art to translate their powerful stories into powerful works-and useful skill sets.
2) Mona’s Message: Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” one of art’s most recognized and enigmatic paintings, stands as testament to the impact that life experience and personal perspective has on art making and art appreciation. She is the focus of all Project Renaissance’s exhibits, where art is used to convey powerful messages regarding social justice on behalf of the teens who create it.
3) The Nitty Gritty: From Streets to Studio is an exhibition of large-scale (20Ê°30Ê° and larger) photographs taken by area teen artists. The exhibition takes place at Antioch University from 5-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 3. Though a tad off the beaten path, it would make a great addition to any art fan’s First Thursday route. To secure a viewing, call 541-7835. And for more information, visit projectrenaissance.org.