The goal of the National Youth Art Movement (NYAM) is to provide youth all across America in neighborhoods besieged by gun violence with an opportunity to make their mark on the issue by using their city as a blank canvas to communicate to the entire community the impact on their lives.
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“For many people the violence in Chicago is experienced through media, which becomes a filtered reality. It’s real and not real.” — Chantala Kommanivanh
Gun violence is only real for those who experience it in real time. And sadly nearly half of those affected in Chicago are under the age of 25.
Among social scientists and medical professionals, the pattern of gun violence occurring in Chicago is considered a public health crisis with contributing factors that are not limited to, but include high unemployment, access to education (school closings and underfunded programs), and poverty (Stark et al, 2017). For these reasons, Amnesty International has called gun violence in Chicago -- a human rights issue (2013).
A collective of artists in 2016 presented an exhibition on the complexity of the conflicts in Chicago called “Hotter than July.” Much of the work shown here is Chantala Kommanivanh’s contribution to that show. The inspiration for the work: “As artists, we felt that our community’s issues weren’t being portrayed with balance and that it [was] our job to shine a light on those who have been ignored.”(Chantala Kommanivanh)