The Artists for Life Project
The Artists for Life Project is a collective engagement, aimed at reducing handgun violence in the Kansas City Metro area. Under the leadership of Darryl Chamberlain, a coalition of prominent, local African-American artists known as The Light in the Other Room, will create posters to increase public awareness of this challenging and heart-breaking problem. Their goal is to create compelling and provocative artwork that will encourage community members to take personal responsibility in addressing handgun violence. The artwork will be displayed in conspicuous locations, appealing to both the general public and perpetrators of the violence.
Gun violence has become a major issue on both national and state agendas. For every death by gunfire, there are numerous other non-fatal shootings. Among African-American males, handgun deaths are at an epidemic level – with fatality totals greater than the combined losses of all other causes of death among African-American youth today. While the causes of handgun violence are complex, the project team believes there are some common sense practices that can be implemented to bring relief to this tragic situation.
The posters aim to enlighten the public, while causing them to contemplate the challenges and consequences of handgun violence, and will encompass a variety of topics including:
1. Awareness Promotion. The public will be made aware of the magnitude of handgun violence in KC Metro communities.
2. Offer Solutions. As the posters relate to perpetrators, the intent is to cause them to consider the impact of their violent actions. The project artwork will inspire the general public to take proactive stances regarding handgun violence, and encourage them to partner with law enforcement agencies across the community in an effort to address handgun violence. The posters will serve to educate all who see them about gun safety.
3. Inspire New Projects. This project will include a social media component, to extend the reach of the campaign against handgun violence and increase public participation in actions that will lead to the prevention of future tragedies.
Artists for Life is also intended to serve as a model project for children, showing how artists and concerned citizens can make a difference in their communities. Chamberlain will solicit School districts to hold a competition, in which students will be invited to create posters aimed at reducing gun violence. Local artists will then judge the student’s artwork, and the project team will hold a reception to recognize the winners of the student competition and award prizes. They will also provide posters by members of The Light in the Other Room, to hang in schools and serve as an inspiration to students.
The project as a whole will culminate with a formal public presentation. This will include a reception with an exhibition featuring the original artwork of the contributing artists, and an invitation to the public, including local civic leaders, to meet the artists and discuss the work they have done together.
Darryl Chamberlain is a self-taught artist from a family of artisans consisting of 10 children. He studied technical illustration and drafting and his work tells stories that inspire the mind and imagination. As a two-dimensional artist and a sculptor, he portrays images of key figures from African-American history. He creates near-life-sized busts and displays them in institutions, businesses and schools across the Midwest. The art is presented in a unique presentation titled “The Gloryworks Experience” that he uses to teach the importance of African-American history and to promote interpersonal respect.
Chamberlain’s artwork has been shown in such places as the Internal Revenue Service Center in Merriam Kansas, the Department of Immigration and Naturalization in Dallas Texas, the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation in Richardson Texas, and the Job Corps of McKinney Texas, to name a few. Chamberlain also presents his sculptures and lectures in schools and universities across the Midwest.
Darryl Chamberlain is a member of The Light in the Other Room and has a long-standing history of community-based projects. The Light in the Other Room formed in July of 2001 to create an opportunity for African-American artists to collaborate, and to display and promote their artwork.
Lonnie Powell is a graduate of Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri where he was privileged to study under the late James Dallas Parks. Mr. Powell has spent the majority of his career as an art teacher in the Kansas City, Missouri School District.
Mr. Powell’s art has been displayed at: the Ethnic Art Gallery; the Central Exchange Gallery; Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center; The American Jazz Museum’s Changing Gallery; Rockhurst College’s Thomas Moore Center, where he was Artist in Residence for one year; The Kansas City Jewish Museum/Epstein Galley and the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Ethnic Cultural Center to name a few. Mr. Powell’s art is part of numerous private collections including The Sprint Collection. He has also successfully participated in various art competitions throughout the nation.
Nedra Bonds is Program Coordinator at Health Professions Pipeway Initiative, University of Kansas School of Medicine. Her art has been displayed at Mansfield University, in Pennsylvania; African American House, UMKC; 18th Street Studio, Kansas City, MO; William Jewell College, Liberty, MO; Austin Peay University, Clarksville, Tennessee; African American Cultural Center, Arusha, Tanzania; Wyandotte County Historical Society, Bonner Springs, KS; Kansas African American Museum, Wichita,KS; Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO and the American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO.
Bonnye Brown has made her name among African-American artists in the Kansas City area for more than ten years. She graduated with honors from Central Missouri State University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She paints with a poignant style that reflects love of life and family, as well as her blues and jazz heritage.
Brown has exhibited at numerous venues in the Kansas City area, including the Kansas City Jazz Museum, Central Missouri State University Art Center, William Jewel college, UMKC African- American History and Culture House, Penn Valley Carter Center, St. Louis Artist Guild, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, Portfolios Gallery and Educational Center. Her painting “Catch Me A Ball Player” is a part of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s private collection. It is currently on a national tour with the Shades of Greatness art exhibit. Brown’s paintings are found in private collections such as Sprint, State Farm, Subway and other professional businesses around the country. She is also vice president of the Light in the Other Room.
Henry Dixon grew up in Chicago, IL and later moved to Michigan with his family, where he attended Western Michigan University for his formal training. Mr. Dixon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and a Master of Arts Degree in Graphic Design. After graduation, Mr. Dixon moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he resides with his wife and works for Hallmark Cards. In addition to numerous national and worldwide exhibitions, Mr. Dixon was selected as one of five artists to represent the United States in London at St. James Palace for the Windsor and Newton Worldwide Millennium Painting Competition. With over 22,000 entries, the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) chaired the panel of world-renowned judges.
Mr. Dixon was also selected from hundreds of artist in Missouri to represent the state for the 2001 White House Calendar. His work is displayed in a large variety of publications including New York Monthly Gallery Review, Artist’s Magazine, International Artists Magazine, and Watercolor Magic. He is also a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, the California Watercolor Association and the Texas Watercolor Society
Margarete Gillespie is a member of the Artists Coalitions of Kansas City and Chicago, and the Black Chamber of Commerce. She studied at the Kansas City Art Institute,Harry Fredman Studio and Longview Community College.
Margarete Gillespie’s work has been published in Glory Magazine and Art Exposed, the guide to Open Studios. Ms. Gillespie’s work has been exhibited at: The Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation; Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center; Town and Country Bank; Commerce Bank; Johnson County Library; United African Alliance Community Center; The American Jazz Museum; UMKC, and The Bohemian Gallery of Kansas City as well as a variety of other venues
Anthony High is a member of the Kansas City Artist Coalition. He received his BS from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, majoring in Art Education, and his MA from UMKC, where he majored in studio art (painting and printmaking). His past exhibits include: Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO; Lincoln University’s Memorial Hall Gallery, Jefferson City, MO; Commerce Bank Exhibition, Leawood KS; Carnegie Cultural Exhibition Center, Ottawa, KS; Gem Theater Gallery Group Show, KCMO; The 18th Street Studio KCMO; The American Jazz Museum, KCMO; the Shades of Greatness Tour ( a traveling art show).
Mr. High collaborated with Lonnie Powell to create the Grand Center Mural titled “Jazz and Blues“, a tribute to Miles Davis. His work is also part of several private collections including The Sprint Collection and UMKC’s Private Collection
George Mayfield is owner of G.C. Mayfield Studio in Kansas City, Kansas. He has been painting for over 20 years. Mr. Mayfield has focused primarily on portraits, abstracts, 3D art and nearly photo-perfect renditions of fruits and flowers. His paintings are primarily displayed at G.C. Mayfield Gallery. His work can also be found in galleries located in Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana and Arizona.
Mr. Mayfield was the first African American to permanently display a portrait in the Kansas State Capitol, has two original portraits hanging permanently in the Kansas Historical Research Center Museum; was commissioned to create an original portrait of Governor John Carlin and was also commissioned by the Black Historical Society of Kansas City, Missouri to create an original portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta. Mr. Mayfield is available for one-man shows, lectures and public speaking.
Ben Mercer graduated from Lincoln University with a B.S. in Education and a Minor in Biology. He received his Masters in Adult Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Mr. Mercer worked for the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department and has since retired.
Over the course of a brilliant creative career, Ben has compiled an impressive list of achievements in art and photography. His work has appeared in several publications including Focus Kansas City; Endless Journeys, Photographer’s Forum, Best of Photography Annual, and several magazine covers. He has work in the permanent collections of the Nerman Gallery at Johnson County Community College, the University of Kansas Preservation Alliance, and several private collections. Gallery showings of his art and photography include: Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, Kansas City Jazz Museum, The National Traveling Exhibit Art for Health in Washington D.C., The Portfolio Gallery and the old Court House Gallery in St. Louis, MO, The Kansas City Airport Terminal, Atlanta Life Insurance Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and many others nationally and regionally.
He has been honored as one of “Artists Magazine” 200 artists, the Municipal Art Commission Talented Ten, and won many awards in art and photography. His exclusive body of work “The Vietnamese Among Us” is a unique photographic documentary of the Vietnamese refugee community in Kansas City, Missouri. Ben has taught art in various venues and studied in Paris France, and the Netherlands.