Having participated in another Rocket Grants funded project, Artists for Life, George Mayfield recognized the way that artists’ work and vision can create strong community impacts when addressing sensitive subjects. The goal of Unspoken Violence is to not let stories about physical abuse stay hidden in victims or perpetrator’s homes, but to instead take the conversation out into diverse communities.
The ultimate form this project will take is a traveling exhibition of posters accompanied by spoken word performances and presentations by speakers from relevant organizations who can address the issues of violence. The involvement of spoken word and rap is an initiative to connect different generations – from young students to established, mature artists – and there will be a total of twenty makers of all kinds involved.
Participating artists will create work in response to the subjects of domestic violence, bullying, child abuse and neglect, and art works will be displayed in churches, schools, community centers and other unexpected locations – such as businesses and casino lobbies. All artists will receive 5 prints for their own use, organizations will receive prints for informational display, and the rest will be sold and go back to pay for another venue or to continue the project.
As a means to include young artists in the traveling exhibition, the project will stage competitions at Kansas City area high schools. Teachers and counselors working with the project will ensure that there is support, safety and caring provided to any participants who may have trauma associated with their own experiences of violence in their home. Shelter organizations will also be involved in the process with the goal that Unspoken Violence will continue on beyond its “completion” date.
In addition to starting public conversations about this often hidden topic, the project will share information in the community about who to reach out to in bad situations. In order to reach as wide of an audience as possible, Unspoken Violence will be investigating working with a billboard company in Topeka in order to display images at a large scale.
Lead artist George Mayfield says: “The project encourages artists to get involved in the community in a positive way, by providing an opportunity for them to use their artistic abilities to help society see the pain of other citizens and especially our children – voices we need to hear.”
George C. Mayfield, artist/owner of G.C. Mayfield Studio in Kansas City, Kansas, has been painting for over 20 years. His paintings are primarily displayed at G.C. Mayfield Gallery but he also displays his work in other galleries nationally and internationally. Mayfield is currently the Director of the Kansas City Minority Artists and has held a position with that group since 1994. He is also the President of the Light in the other Room, an African-American based artist group.
For 27 years he has volunteered as a coach with the AAU track teams for kids 7-18 years of age. He was the first African-American to permanently display a portrait in the Kansas State Capitol – an original portrait of Edward R. McCabe, the first black elected official in Kansas. Additionally, Mayfield was commissioned by the Black Historical Society of Kansas City, Missouri to create an original portrait of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be sent to the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia.
Erlene Flowers’ interest in art started very early in life, and she has been involved in art – creating, designing, organizing exhibits and teaching – ever since. She holds Bachelors, Masters and Specialist degrees. After graduation from a technical high school, she earned a living as a working artist doing graphic design. Then, as a graduate student she studied mural painting and pottery at the Universidad de Mexico .
Erlene went on to teach fine arts in high school for over 15 years, and then served in public school administration. She has pieces in corporate and private collections, has traveled to Europe and Africa, and teaches, curates shows and exhibits her work in multiple venues. She currently works as a curator for the Living Room Gallery in the Vine Street Studio Gallery in the jazz district. http://www.erleneflowersstudio.blogspot.com
Karisse W. Whyte has served Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) as an instructor and coordinator for the Victim/Survivor Services program since Fall 2006. Her educational background is varied, consisting of an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Stanford University in 1992 and a Masters degree in Education from UCLA the following year. She earned her Certificate in Victim Services from California State University – Fresno in 2007. Professor Whyte has an active civic and community service record, including the Kansas City Kansas Mayor’s Council Against Domestic Violence.
Prior to her tenure at KCKCC, she spent eight years as an instructor in the K-12 education system and five years as associate director of Greater Kansas City Public Achievement, a youth civic engagement program. It was through her work with Public Achievement that she fully became aware of the myriad of victimization issues encountered by her former students. This occasion for an “outside of the classroom” context opened her eyes to the issues of domestic violence, child abuse, and homicide that were often faced by the families and students with whom she worked. As a result, she would like to see all teachers educated to be more closely attuned to issues of victimization and how to effectively protect and respond to children and families in crisis.
Darryl Chamberlain is an artist who combines art with historical and socio-political concerns. He is passionate about the way art can invite people to contemplate their role in improving the social ambiance of their communities. Chamberlain is referred to by his peers as a renaissance man. His detailed and meticulous techniques combine with a diversity of mediums including sculpture, watercolor, pastel, pen and ink, and oils. Chamberlain’s art projects have appeared in many venues across the Midwest, and include a mobile presentation called The Gloryworks Experience that combines art, music, and oratorical essays to take viewers on a historical journey of American history. His most recent work, The Artists for Life Project, gathered artists to create artwork adressing the pressing issues of handgun violence in the Kansas City area. This acclaimed exhibition is currently on tour around the state of Missouri.
Some of the other contributing artists and community members include:
Joe L. Smith