Early in the summer of 2010, 15 youth from the PlatteForum’s ArtLab program in collaboration with The Kempe Center created the mural “Words Are Power.”
The Cultural Competence Committee received a University of Colorado Denver Diversity and Excellence grant. Dr. Evelin Gomez, Kim Pierpoint and Sharon Schonhaut were instrumental in bringing together
the project, “Promoting Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect from our Community Youth through Artistic Expression.” ArtLab youth visited Kempe, learned about child abuse and neglect, and created the “Words Are Power” mural to address the issue. The finished mural is now on display at The Kempe Center.
The mural’s conceptualization process took place over about a month’s time, where the youth held discussions and workshops addressing discipline and abuse. The youth asked themselves the personal question,”Should what happens in the house, stay in the house?” After an in-depth look into the issues that shape the lives of students, parents, and community, the youth engaged in a study of design and media.
“Words Are Power” addresses child abuse and neglect by paying special attention to positive and negative phrases often heard in the community. Through the discussion, the students decided to use an image of a teddy bear as the center of the mural. The teddy bear’s arm is in a cast, the ear is torn, and it is missing a shoe. The students wrote negative words with charcoal, allowing them the power of their own hand, emphasizing and blurring that can happen between the words. On top of the negative words in cursive are the positive phrases that the students hope will guide them into the future.
The intent of “Words Are Power” is to raise awareness and inspire discussion about the subject of child abuse. The students achieve this through layers of materials and images, creating a dialog on the canvas and in the community.