Founder Brenda Ann Kenneally has an extended history of organizing collaborations with NGO’s and Community Arts entities, to create platforms for participatory components of her independent documentary projects. Through these programs and workshops, designed to encourage the creative voices of young people in “under heard” and “under served” populations, Kenneally witnessed the empowerment possible through personal expression.
BUSHWICK, BROOKLYN, 1996-1999
Kenneally invited local NGO volunteers from The ATD Fourth World Movement ( All Together in Dignity To Overcome Poverty) to collaborate with her in ways to expand the street life of the children that she was documenting in her Brooklyn Neighborhood. The partnership produced a community mural project around the theme of ” What I want to be when I grow up.” In the weeks leading up to the mural’s completion there was a summer street library festival. Over the three years that followed, Kenneally and The Fourth World’s volunteers continued to deepen their relationships with each other and the neighborhood through regular Saturday street libraries (often held in a neighbor’s home or public library when it was cold out side!) and art making. Children from the street library spoke about issues that effected their community during public forums held at both the United Nations in New York and The United States Capitol in Washington DC.
LEARNING THE IMPORTANCE OF DEEP AND SUSTAINED RELATIONSHIPS
Andy, a participant of The Street Library 20 years later, talking about his experiences while growing up in Bushwick, being the subject of a book, and how he has been inspired to continue to tell his own story
THE RESONANCE OF A SINGLE VOICE
Tom Denigan, an English Teacher at Bushwick Community High School, used Andy’s Story from a post he had seen in The New York Times Lens Blog to inspire the essay writing that his students were practicing for their Regents exams. When Mr. Denigan invited Andy to speak to the class, it sparked an empowering dialogue between Andy and the students about the larger social forces at work in their neighborhood.
After Andy spoke to his class, Tom Denegin Wrote this article for The Irish Times (10/14/2014).
CREATIVE VOICES AS PART OF A NEIGHBORHOOD’S CHANGING HISTORY
In The Spring of 2014, many of the street library participants, reconvened after a decade, to contribute to a collective installation during Bushwick Open Studios. Many of the youth, whose coming of age had also been chronicled in the book Kenneally published about their neighborhood in Bushwick, addressed the subject of gentrification on their block by threading words and pictures from the young people’s personal histories together with images and stories from newly minted residents of the community.
NEW RELATIONSHIPS TO HONOR DIVERSITY THROUGH ARTISTIC PRESENCE
In the spring of 2015, Kenneally and the young people from her Bushwick Neighborhood, collaborated Rocco Arts Mural Projects and Independent Mural Artist BK FOXX, to use several images from The Street Libraries and Kenneally’s Book to create positive tributes to the rich and important history of the street life lived by neighborhood children in years past. These memories have become increasing important to preserve amid the rapid change of Brooklyn’s social and cultural landscape.
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH CREATIVE PARTICIPATION
In 2009 Kenneally began an ongoing relationship with The Sanctuary For Independent Media, A Non- Profit Community Media Arts Organization, in Troy, New York. Kenneally and The Sanctuary have engaged youth in their struggling North Tory Neighborhood in regular workshops and public art actions.
Here are Kenneally’s Collaborations With The Sanctuary For Independent Media
2010 Scrapin’ Upstate
A participatory multi media platform to enable at risk youth to reclaim their personal histories.
2014 Guerilla Gallery
A public art display of large scale portraits of neighborhood residents were hung by those residents on boarded up windows and doors of the homes on their block that had been through foreclosure
2015 YMCA SCRAPBOOK WORKSHOP in BELMONT, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
In 2015, Kenneally was invited by World Press Photo International and The YMCA International, to create and facilitate a scrapbook workshop during an afterschool program for marginalized youth served by The YMCA in Western Australia. The children and their parents concluded the workshop with a public art show hosted at The Belmont Library, followed by and awards ceremony, hosted by The Mayor of The City. The children and their parents wept during the presentation of the digital stories the participants created around the theme of family.
See YMCA scrapbooks here: https://vimeo.com/132009366