The Artists for Life Project is a collective engagement of African-American artists, aimed at reducing handgun violence in the Kansas City Metro area.
Under the leadership of Darryl Chamberlain, a coalition of prominent national and local African-American artists, including artists from The Light in the Other Room, will create posters to increase public awareness of this challenging problem. Their goal is to create compelling and provocative artwork that will encourage the community 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. Fatality totals for Black males aged 14 to 25 are greater than the combined losses from all other causes of death among young, African-American men. 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 the team is producing 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. For perpetrators who see the posters, the intent is to cause them to consider the impact of their violent actions. The project artwork will also inspire the general public to take proactive stances regarding handgun violence, and will encourage them to partner with law enforcement agencies across the community in an effort to address this issue. 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 to 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. Posters that are created by the professional artists will hang in schools and serve as an inspiration to students.
A public reception is being planned for March 28, 2014 featuring the original artwork of the contributing artists, and is an invitation to the public, including local civic leaders, to meet the artists and discuss the body of work that makes up The Artists for Life Project.
Darryl Chamberlain is a member of The Light in the Other Room and the Mid America Pastel Society of which he also serves as secretary. Chamberlain is the director of The Artists for Life Project and is a self-taught artist. He studied technical illustration and drafting at Grayson College in Sherman, Texas and incorporates these skills into his beautifully detailed artwork. As a two-dimensional artist and a sculptor, he creates images of key figures from African-American history. These near-life-sized busts are displayed in institutions, businesses and schools across the Midwest. The art is presented in a unique presentation titled The Gloryworks Experience, which he uses to teach the importance of African-American history and to promote interpersonal respect.
Chamberlain’s artwork has been shown in places such 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, the Job Corps of McKinney Texas, and in public schools and universities across the Midwest.
Darryl Chamberlain has a long-standing history of involvement in community-based projects that span the fields of art, music, and robotics.
Lonnie Powell is a founding member of The Light in the Other Room and 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: Ethnic Art Gallery; 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 Gallery 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.
Bonnye Brown is a member of The Light in the Other Room and has made her name among African-American artists in the Kansas City area. 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. Bonnye Brown’s paintings are found in private collections such as Sprint, State Farm, Subway and other professional businesses around the country.
Margarete Gillespie is a member of The Light in the Other Room and is a member of the Artists Coalitions of Kansas City and Chicago. She studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, Harry Fredman Studio and Longview Community College.
Ms. Gillespie’s work has been published in Glory Magazine and Art Exposed, the guide to Open Studios, and 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 Light in the Other Room and 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 a member of The Light in the Other Room and 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, but 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 is a member of The Light in the Other Room. He 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.
Kim Cole is co-owner of Blessed Oil on Canvas a company that promotes and distributes her artwork. She is a member of the Kansas City Artist Coalition and participates with the Arts Council of Greater Metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri. Ms. Cole is currently the Art teacher for Whitefield Academy, a K-12 Christian school. She has been called upon to give Art Talks and Workshops for local youth, and was voted the “Peoples Choice” award winner for the 2004 Religious Art Show, Shawnee, KS.
Her works have also been shown in such venues as: The American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri; The Vaughn Cultural Center, St. Louis, Missouri; Homers Coffee House, Overland PK. KS; The Open Studios Show, Overland Pk., KS; Hampton University’s 2005 New Power Generation Show, Hampton Virginia; University of Missouri at Kansas City; Ms. Cole has been commissioned to paint oil paintings and murals for churches and business, as well as several private homes, and schools.
Erlene E C Flowers is a member of The Light in the Other Room and is owner of Signature Creations Studio in Lee’s Summit. Ms. Flowers is a world-traveled artist who received inspiration for her art across several continents. She is a former graphic artist and has owned and operated galleries and studios across the Midwestern state area. Ms. Flowers possesses a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Art, which includes a major in art history. She did post-graduate work at Universidad de Mexico where she studied with Raul Anguiano, and she also studied pottery with the nationally-acclaimed potter Castano.
Erlene E C Flowers creates artwork that uses vibrant colors and tells poignant stories of everyday life, along with essays from history. Her work encompasses the spiritual, historical, and social experiences of humanity, and is a part of many corporate and private collections across America. The real beauty of her art work is in its lyricism and the exquisite use of tone in her paintings. This poignant artist has exhibited at several local Missouri and Kansas galleries including, the Kansas City Museum, Kemper Contemporary Art Museum, Gore Museum in St. Joseph, Imago Dei Gallery in Kansas, Apex Art Space in the Crossroads of Kansas City, Got Art Gallery in Lee’s Summit and the American Jazz Museum- Swing Shop.
Corporal Gregory L. Powell is a member of the Liberty, Missouri Police Department. Corporal Powell is a longstanding artist who comes from a family of artists. Upon hearing about The Artists for Life Project Corporal Powell expressed a desire to be a part of the project. The artists participating in this project represent a diversity of walks of life and professions, young and old, professional and non-professional. Corporal Powell adds a special voice to the team, as he brings a unique perspective of being a law enforcement officer.
Sherman Boyd IV
Martice Smith II