A Compassionate Space

Marigny Warning, 2014 by John Barnes, Guns In the Hands of Artists, Des Lee Gallery, September 16-November 21, 2015
Marigny Warning, 2014 by John Barnes, Guns In the Hands of Artists, Des Lee Gallery, September 16-November 21, 2015

Story Stitchers performed last night at the Guns in the Hands of Artists exhibition Artists’ Panel in Steinberg Hall at Washington University. The exhibition is showing at the Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Avenue through November 21st. The pain of those who have lost loved ones due to gun violence and the hope that things can change permeated the air. Under the skillful watch of moderator Dr. Terrell Carter, the room became a compassionate space for open dialogue.

Story Stitchers brought local voices to the table through a soulful tribute to those fallen due to gun violence by Collective member and violinist Mario Miles-Turnage. Stitchers Teen Council performed beautifully and bravely sent out their message of unity and a call to action through their music. Audience members told me afterwards that they were adorable, powerful, brave, inspiring and amazing and felt the importance of not only giving youth a voice but also the wisdom of listening to what they are saying.

Story Stitchers music director Mr. K.P. Dennis took the stage and at first was overcome by emotion and memories of his young nephew, who was lost to senseless gun violence just this past summer. The atmosphere in the room was compassionate. K.P. took a deep breath, composed his thoughts, and turned in a moving and flawless performance with Stitchers youth punctuating the chorus lines.

One message of the artists’ panel was that art is the catalyst for discussion and forward movement. Don’t let us stop there. We must work together to find multi-layered ways to answer this problem and we must move with urgency and determination because we are losing our young everyday. Artists felt the movement must swell up from the masses.

The brilliant third verse of K.P.’s song, Gunshots!!, which he dedicated to his fallen nephew, describes in rap the 10 things we can all do to combat gun violence, as recommended by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce on her website: www.stlouisguncrime.com/

Secure ya legal weapon tell others to do the same!

Don’t carry nothing if it ain’t registered in your name!

Record the make, model, serial number information!

If it come up missing then you can find the location.

Call 911 whenever you hear some gunshots!

Tell the police if you witness a crime on your block!

If an organization improves life of the youth,

Donate or volunteer your time and give’em a boost!

Help a struggling parent…. Whose burdens weigh a ton!

Become a mentor “earn and learn” hire the young!

They say I am the one! I guess I’m on the list,

Clean up my neighborhood participate in ownership!…

Make it a model gotta look out for each other,

If we get to know our neighbors we could fix it like sisters and brothers!

I can’t trust ya. How can we ever begin?

To build peace!  I keep, losing my friends when they…

Hangout… gunshots!

Stay inside… gunshots!

Non stop… gunshots!

Day light there’s gunshots!

Nighttime more gunshots!

Around the clock… the young drop!

Wave your hands high if you’re tired of hearing gunshots!

Lyrics copyright Saint Louis Story Stitchers, 2015

For bookings and publications please contact Storystitchers@gmail.com.