Updated: Oct 19, 2020
It's difficult to find words to describe how precious “life” is to a room full of children who just want to run and play and live. Live. The word “live” reverberates differently this year.
Month after month, we've witnessed story after story about our community members struggling to breathe, struggling to live. Whether it's a knee in the neck, a bullet in the back, or a breathing tube down the throat, our children have been forced to reevaluate what the word “live” really means in the year 2020.
How do I, one person, fight for the next generation? How do I reach them? What can I say when words are inadequate?
I step out on faith and do what I was created to do: bear witness through art and transfer pain into catharsis.
In this moment in time, I've been led to equip the youth with the tools necessary to question the world as it is and imagine the world as it could be so that they are able to work towards making that new world real. I introduced the youth to art activism. Through creativity and vivid imaginations, we speak through art.
As a visual artist, it is my honor and duty to work with future artists and future community leaders. It is also my duty to charge every man woman and child to remember that we all have a part to play.
A CHARGE TO PARENTS, EDUCATORS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS:
1.) Provide an environment conducive to self-expression and self-love.
2.) As an instinct, children use art to express their feelings and ideas. Capitalize on their natural relationship to art by prompting them to examine the ways art relates to community leadership and activism. Surround your child with concepts of art and activism and provide them a chance to discuss their understanding.
3.) Introduce your children to activists in your community so that they are able to develop an understanding of local community and what attributes make someone a community leader.
4.) Introduce your children to artists of color, past and present and allow them to analyze how these artists have fought racial stereotypes through their work.
5.) Get your hands dirty! Making art together helps children build community and see themselves as important parts of their world.
A CHARGE TO OUR YOUTH:
1.) Young people, you are the future of uplift and change! You cannot give up. You are our lifeblood; you are our energy – you have a moral obligation to stay in this fight in whatever capacity you can.
2.) When you leave the classroom, take the messages back to your respective communities.
3.) Before you go to sleep, ask yourself, “What have I done today to enhance my contribution to meeting the challenges that face my community?”
4.) When you don't have the words to speak your truth, lean on the gift of art. Draw it out, dance it off, paint it away, but ALWAYS speak out. Your truth will not be silenced!
5.) Motivate and galvanize people and tell them what you're going to do… and then GO DO IT!
6.) Be safe. Be well. Be vigilant. Be intentional.
Breathe deeply and go change the world.
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Deonna Craig is an Indianapolis based visual artist and the owner of DC's heARTbeat. She graduated from Cathedral High School and DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Sociology. Her eclectic spirit let her down various career paths from production assistant for the Jerry Springer talk show to Insurance where she honed her leadership skills in management and training. After spending 15 years in Corporate America, Deonna's creativity and love for adventure caused her to pursue art full-time. As an entrepreneur, Deonna is able to pursue her passions of community building, teaching, public speaking, and of course visual art. She has received great recognition for her work in the cultural community. She also serves as a mentor, a dance instructor, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. DC's heARTbeat provides original artwork, live painting experiences, painting classes, and art therapy. Her unique work has been featured in various galleries and trade shows over the past 12 years. To learn more about Deonna Craig be sure to connect with her!