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.
102 shot, 15 killed — Independence Day Weekend July 2017 53 people shot, 4 killed — Memorial Weekend May 2016 41 shot, 8 killed — Mother’s Day Weekend May 2016 It seems unreal that this is happening in our city, to our neighbors, to people made from the same flesh, blood, and bone as our own. Disconnected from the circumstances — the house, the street corner, or the argument that sent shots flying into skin and a life made of memories and promises to cook dinner that night, call a friend, or finish a homework assignment — these people remain numbers 102, 53, and 41.
If our minds can’t rationalize it, we can turn off the TV, surf to a new website, or skip to a news story that we identify with — one that makes “sense.” And if the shootings aren’t happening in our physical spaces, we can pretend that these things have nothing to with us. It’s “them” who don’t value life, not “us.” But knowing — followed by inaction — makes us all complicit | guilty | responsible, especially when the shootings are happening a couple of houses down, a few blocks away, or in the neighborhood across town.
This is why the National Youth Art Movement Against Gun Violence (NYAM) started a campaign to reshape people’s relationship with their city, their neighbors, and the youth. By placing purpose-driven art in public spaces, we reduce people’s ability to disconnect from the loss of life in our city as a result of gun violence. By using large-scale billboards, we magnify the presence and the talent of our youth. By using mobile technology, we converge public art and social activism into a new means of collective action and accountability.