Born and raised in Norristown, PA, Mydera Robinson is a poet, visual artist, host, educator, and most currently the Creative Director of SpeakMeFree Productions. Also known as “Mydera SpeakMeFree”, Mydera has been writing and performing since childhood. In 2012 she released her debut spoken word album “Confessions of a Caterpillar”. In 2013 Mydera SpeakMeFree founded SpeakMeFree Productions and Open Words Open Mic. She now works as Host and Co-Organizer for the Open Words Open Mic Poetry Network, which curates events in the tri-state area. Since her appearance on the scene, Mydera SpeakMeFree has become a major presence in her community. She holds several board positions and is recognized as a leader of the arts in both Philadelphia and Norristown, PA. Mydera SpeakMeFree has made it her mission to help others find their voice. You can often find her teaching workshops, hosting events, working with the youth, and volunteering in her local arts community.
Tiffany Thompkins is an artist, forging her way through a world she hopes to one day see filled with people living their best lives as individuals and in agreement with one another. She is currently a second year student at Temple University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Apart from academics, she sings, plays viola and writes and performs poetry. She loves to serve and recently has grown the desire to serve as an advocate for justice as well. This world is what we make it and with all she has, she strives to make it beautiful.
Hailing from Denver, Colorado this white-washed, mountain Chicano is a social worker, spoken word artist, activist and member of the Get Lucid! artist collective.
Minnesota native, Lenora "Nore B" Magee is a writer, spoken word artist and educator. She started performing at 16 and has shared stage with many talented people including Amanda Diva, Trey Songz and Dead Prez. She has been a featured artist around Minnesota, Philadelphia, DC and Maryland and also hosts Orisun Sister Circle, creative writing and arts workshops focused on using conversation, connection and creativity as tools of healing for women.
As an up and coming poet hailing from Northern New Jersey, Angeline Cazeau believes in using the arts as a form of healing. She has been writing poetry since the age of 12, and has performed on many stages including Dream L.ive Movement's "Affirmation of Love" and "The Fabric from Which We've Come". Currently she is a student at Temple University majoring in Psychology. At Temple she studied poetry as performance under acclaimed poet & author, Dr. Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon. Some of Angeline's most influential inspirations are James Baldwin, Alysia Harris, Junot Diaz, J.Cole and Kanye West. In all her works, she strives to tell a story with honesty and transparency. By sharing her experiences through art, Angeline hopes to encourage others to speak out, thus facilitating their own healing.
Sanovia Garrett is a Philadelphia Transplant, from Muncie, IN who believes in sharing the HeARTist Things to Say. Her community for short is called #THT2SAY. A novice guitarist, worship leader, singer-songwriter, poet, LuLu Online Magazine Columnist & lover of people, Sanovia believes in the healing qualities of music via storytelling. She is currently working towards her Master's Degree in Urban Studies (Community Arts concentration) at Eastern University while making drinks as a barista at Starbucks. She is also preparing for a trip to Kenya this August (2016).
Kevin Anglade (Kev Elev) is an emerging hip-hop poet from South Jamaica, Queens, New York. At the age of 21, he began writing poems as a way of recording his growth and dealing with difficulties he faced during early adolescence and young adults years. Moreover, he is the founder and editor of Flowered Concrete (a small indie press) and has published two detective-fiction novels through the company under a pen name, Kevin Eleven. He is currently working on his book of poetry/memoir called Life Comes From Concrete, which is scheduled for release this forthcoming summer/fall. For more info regarding this talent, please be sure to visit his website at www.kevinanglade.com
Alia Pierre graduated from Hampton University, with a degree in Psychology. After graduating, she realized how passionate she was about poetry and making music, in addition to dancing. Inspiring and uplifting people through her lyrics motivated her to take it to new heights. You can catch her hosting events and performing around New York City.
Jherelle Benn (better known as Relle) is a Trinidadian-born poet who calls Brooklyn, NY her home. She considers herself a writer for a revolution that has not yet begun. She also plays an active role in the LGBT and African-American community and involves herself in various projects to empower the youth. Relle has a professional and perfected stage performance having been featured at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Tammany Hall, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, for a New York State Senator's Inauguration, and other note worthy venues in NYC. While working toward a college degree, Relle has been racking up performance credits and experience contributing articles to various community publications including The Brooklyn Reader, The Brooklyn News Service, and the Red Hook Star Revue. With a background in Community Organizing, Relle stimulates change by hosting and successfully organizing several community events in the downtown Brooklyn area.
Ashley Clarke is a native of Montgomery County. She holds a Bachelor Arts in Criminal Justice from Temple University. She is a member of the performance collective True Voices Philadelphia. As a spoken word poet she has made it her purpose to break the silence. She likes to incorporate different art forms in her performance for her audience to receive the message in what best speaks to them. Her work highlights issues of daily struggles, social issues and ultimately attempting to help her audience find their voice again.
Born and raised in Chicago Illinois. Leah lost her mother at 13 years old. To cope with the loss of her mother, Leah started writing. At the age of 16, she suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke and lost her short term memory. This pushed her to memorize her poems. Without such tragedies she wouldn't be the poet we know today. She currently lives in NJ and travels doing poetry and spreading hope.
Keshad Adeniyi is a visionary with a heart for education, advocacy, and activism. In addition to academia he believes that artistic mediums such as poetry, visual art, ect. are necessary to educate people who come from various walks of life. His thoughts have allowed him to teach others in various schools and prisons, both, locally and internationally. These opportunity have come by way of various organizations who are doing transformational work in incarceral spaces. The Prison Education Project, The Social Justice Learning Institute, and Columbia University Rikers Education Program to name a few. This experience has offered him the opportunity to travel abroad with PEP Uganda to do similar work in prisons located Uganda, Africa. As a native of Watts, CA, Keshad has seen and experienced a lot of turmoil from which he has gained insight and in turn influenced him to take on the moniker, ife Nira, meaning " Love is pain" He is currently studying at New York University, in their American Studies Social Cultural Analysis Program. He is conducting research on the linkages between slavery and incarceration through the scope of policing. He is hoping to add to the conversation surrounding abolition and reform.
As she attended Junkanoo in Nassau, Bahamas the vision of ablaze handmade floats and gaily adorned costumes filled her childhood, becoming one of her many artistic influences. Charlecia's Bahamian and Haitian ancestry is very evident in her art through her use of colors and subject matter. This chapter of her life has been focused on soul searching, yearning for inspiration as she defines her artistic style. She has learned to appreciate the beauties and spiritual value of nature, as it relates to the power she possesses as a black Caribbean American woman. Her mission is to empower the youth to gain their own sense of identity, while encouraging them to use art techniques to display individuality in their artwork.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Scenic Design, Charlecia relocated to the city of brotherly love to serve with AmeriCorps City Year Philadelphia. She served on a small team called the Civic Engagement Team. As the Service Coordinator, Charlecia gained strong event planning and administrative skills by planning beautification projects. She conceptualized mural designs, building projects, and gardening projects that took place throughout schools and community centers in the city.
Her service with City Year gave her a greater love and appreciation for using visual art to interacting with the community. She channels that same energy as she is currently an outreach teaching artist with University City Arts League at Powell Elementary. Charlecia also facilitates the after school visual arts program at Harambee Charter School, both located in West Philadelphia. She enjoys seeing her students engage in discussion on topics such as self-love, social change, and express their goals through the use of art. She plans to continue practicing her craft and will further her knowledge of the world of art education by attending Columbia’s Teachers College Art and Art Education Master’s program this fall.
An AUDELCO nominated choreographer, Kadeem hails from Brooklyn, New York. He attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and the Performing Arts (The Fame School) in New York City. He has choreographed over 55 dance pieces in a variety of dance genres that include: modern, contemporary ballet, jazz, tap, african and liturgical dance.He has showcased his work Off-Broadway in Alive 55+ & Kickin' as well at American College Dance Festival, Harlem Summer Stage, Charles Moore Dance Theater, Muhlenberg College, Lehigh University, SUNY Newpaltz, Laguardia Arts, Bric Studios, Brooklyn Friends School, The Secret Theater, St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Red Hook Festival, St. Luke’s Theater, Dance New Amsterdam and the Harkness Dance Center where dance luminaries such as Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Robert Joffrey, and Lester Horton showcased their talent. It was here in which he was considered one of the "top seven young choreographers in New York City".
In 2015, his work was featured on CBS' 60 Minutes.
Along with his passion for dance, he is an advanced energy medicine practitioner in the Pranic Healing system. (www.thenobletouch.com & www.pranichealing.com)
Driven by the desire to find a place of solace and to build positive, reciprocal relationships between generations, Stefanie Siegel founded Bailey’s Café in 2002. Her work with young people and school reform have been integral in shaping her vision for the organization.
Stefanie taught English in the New York City Public School System from 1987 to 2012. From 1991 to 2012, she taught at Paul Robeson High School in Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights Brooklyn, where she also held the positions of Coordinator of Student Affairs/Senior Advisor and was a member of robesonunite, the student led group that organized to save the school from being phased out.
Since leaving the New York City Department of Education, Stefanie devotes her time to expanding the reach and impact of Bailey’s Café. Stefanie has degrees from Reed College, the University of Chicago, and the City University of New York.
Isaac is a self-taught graphic designer and fine artist. His passion for justice reform runs deep, as he is directly affected by the criminal justice system and its disenfranchising nature. In November 2013, I was released on “good behavior” from New York State Prison after serving 7 years, 8 months and 16 days of a 9-year sentence. During his incarceration he worked as an inmate grievance representative for 3 years in various prisons. Isaac became extremely interested in social justice and equality amongst those in less fortunate positions.
It has been Isaac's personal experience (as an artist who was introduced to the arts inside of prison) that art has the power to transform the artist as well as the audience. Since his release he have used his creativity as an artist to shatter the stigma associated with his own incarceration. Many of his peers have not been able to do the same. Today Isaac is a leader in advocacy with solid goals to induce criminal justice reform through the transformative and storytelling power of the arts. He has used his passion for the arts to accomplish goals that would not have been achieved without such a socially accepted means of expression. Through the arts he has positioned himself in a place where he is able to provide widespread assistance to those artists following behind him. Isaac has independently made a name for himself within the art sector of the re-entry field and is today in a position with Columbia University where he can use his creativity in many different ways to induce change.
This summer Isaac was selected to be a Justice and Education Scholar at Columbia, and he is a significant part of two write-ups of the program (one of which was in New York Times). This semester he is auditing the Children At Risk course, taught by the Director of The Center For Justice, Professor Geraldine Downey. His creativity as an artist has positioned him as the in-house graphic designer for the Center for Justice and has lead to a position as a communications specialist amongst the Center’s program management team. He is also a lead research assistant in the Social Relations Lab at Columbia’s Psychology Department, conducting research on the employment-seeking experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals like himself.
Groundswell Community Mural Program
Art Creates Community. Community Creates Change.
Groundswell brings together artists, youth, and community organizations through our Scaffold Up!™ model to use art as a tool for social change, for a more just and equitable world. Our projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue.
"I Just Want To Come Home"
Mobilized by the national conversation about police and community relations, the all-male Making His’tory team will illustrate the complex relationship between young men of color and the police, as told from the young men’s perspectives. Located in Bushwick on a Food Bazaar Supermarket, the mural they create will consider the changing nature of the neighborhood, the charged histories at play, and positive solutions that can advance justice and equity through changed hearts.
Lead Artist: Chris Soria
Assistant Artist: DonChristian Jones
Quardean Lewis-Allen, a life-long Brownsville resident, earned a B.S in Architecture from SUNY at Buffalo and a Master of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He founded Made in Brownsville with hopes of broadening the horizons of youth in Brownsville and increasing the number of minorities in the design fields.
MiB works closely with partners and city agencies to produce visual change in Brownsville. Prior to starting MiB, Quardean was the inaugural recipient of Community Solutions’ Greg “Jocko” Jackson Community Fellowship at the Brownsville Partnership. In 2011, he worked for the Chife Foundation to develop affordable housing typologies for an eco-sustainable new town in Anam, Nigeria with support from the Harvard Community Service Fellowship Grant. He has studied social housing under Anne Lacaton in Paris and public art under Krzysztof Wodiczko. His work has been exhibited at Le Laboratoire in Paris, at the Afrika Museum in the Netherlands, and Harvard University. Quardean has lectured on social advocacy in design at Harvard and Queens College and has been a guest critic at Harvard and Pratt Institute. In 2013, he was chosen as one of 40-under-40 creative urban leaders for Next City’s Vanguard Conference. His architectural thesis, “Brownstone Brownsville: Victorian Vernacular for Tower Block Projects,” proposed a hybrid tower-townhouse typology for addressing street frontage of public housing tower blocks.
Jahshua Smith refers to himself as a resident on the intersection of Swag and Substance, with a mix of activism and contemporary rhymes known as Pro-Black Cool.
Not only is he an accomplished hip-hop emcee, with two full length LPs and 3 EPs under his belt, but brings 7 years of experience in youth development, specializing in working with victims of trauma and violence.
A Detroit native, Smith has been able to mix hip-hop with youth care in his home state of Michigan as well as Washington D.C. and New York, working with young people by day and performing in front of crowds by night.
His ties to the Lansing community began with his ascension as an young emcee doing open mics at the 'Respiration' montly Hip-Hop showcase, and further continued through his work as a behavior treatment specialist. His mission, facilitated by his current status as Program Director with the All of the Above Academy, is to continue overseeing the implementation of Hip-Hop infused programming to serve the needs of the Capital Area community and expand their capacity to create.
The Wombman Unspoken
The Wombman Unspoken. is from Southeast Michigan or better known as “Downriver”. She began writing at the age of 10 years old, but decided to publicize her work in 2014. She shares her journey with people one experience at a time, focusing on relationships, love, heartbreak, health, and many others. She hopes to inspire people to speak their truths, live in their truths, and accept their truths.