THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) — Students from the South Bronx performed at Carnegie Hall Tuesday night, thanks to the violence interrupter program ‘Guns Down Life Up’ and a New York City public artist in residence.
‘Guns Down Life Up’ runs out of Lincoln Hospital, focusing on youth empowerment and breaking the cycle of gun violence.
For the past year, the group has been working with Modesto ‘Flako’ Jimenez, the public artist in residence at NYC Health + Hospitals. Jimenez was chosen as one of four artists to complete a yearlong residency at a city agency. Jimenez has been teaching poetry, photography, acting, and more to the students in ‘Guns Down Life Up. ‘
“One of the workshops was a poetry workshop that asks them to envision themselves past the age they are on, so they have to write a poem until the age of 27,” explained Jimenez.
The students also received disposable cameras to document their neighborhoods and took acting classes to put a modern twist on ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ which they performed at Carnegie Hall. Their work was transformed into murals that are permanent installations at Lincoln Hospital.
“Every time I go to Lincoln, I see my work on the wall and I feel good and great about myself,” said Shadell Jones, a student in ‘Guns Down Life Up.’
Violence interrupters said they’ve seen a difference in the students’ demeanors, who now have another way to express themselves.
“Instead of going out and doing violent acts, instead of going out and committing a crime, they went into the art room and began to draw and paint, went into the community and began to do photography,” said Christian Matthew, the senior youth representative for ‘Guns Down Life Up.’
Kartier Conway, a violence interrupter for ‘Guns Down, Life Up,’ said tap dancing saved his life and kept him off the streets. He now mentors students.
“Just to see them expressing themselves in a positive way is amazing,” said Conway.