Stitchers Youth Council Spotlight: Rachel

The Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective, a 501(c)(3) organization, is professional artists and inner-city youth grades ages 16-24, working together to create social change with a focus on gun violence prevention.

Stitchers collect local stories, reframe and retell them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy.

Story Stitchers are artists-in-residence at Kranzberg Arts Foundation in the vibrant Grand Center Arts District and run a Storefront Studio for publishing at 616 N Skinker Blvd. in the historic Loop District.

Meet Rachel, a member of the Stitchers Youth Council…

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Rachel is a dual enrollment student at Metro High School where she plays basketball and also takes most of her classes at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. She is a producer and a song writer, performing at her school, at the African Arts Festival, and sings in the choir at her church on Sundays. In the future she will be performing in FEM Fest for female Emcee’s and St. Louis underground music’s SLUM FEST.

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Rachel joined Story Stitchers in 2018 and was a creator and performer on Teen Rap Crisis II .

“I enjoy working with other artists, with kids, and interacting with the neighborhood. Despite being one of the youngest in the Stitchers Youth Council, I’m a vocal powerhouse when it comes to my music and poetry. Being with Story Stitchers allows me to not only continue my work, but become more creative,” said Rachel.

Rachel is serving as a youth writer, poet, and performer for Story Stitchers’ new project, The WHY of MY City, which will premiere at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival April 24, 2020 at the new High Low on Washington. The WHY of MY City is an artistic commission designed to raise awareness on gun violence prevention and rebuild civic pride for St. Louis, MO, which has neighborhoods that are reeling from gun violence. The new work by African American artists will explore why citizens do and should care about their neighborhoods, even as outsiders might see the same city blocks as uninhabitable. The WHY of MY City is created with support from Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Humanities Council, a state agency, Missouri Foundation for Health, and Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

IMG_8538 2The goal for all Story Stitchers projects is to promote a better educated, more peaceful and caring region through storytelling. A core creative group of professional artists and African American youth generate original work through a unique form of “urban storytelling” that includes hip hop, spoken word, photography and videography and disseminate new works through public presentations and performances. The Collective’s body of work focuses on gun violence prevention and topics related to public health issues.

Story Stitchers’ programs are driven by the interests and concerns of low-income, black youth and as a result have focused on gun violence since 2014. Gun violence is a pressing public health crisis that consumes the attention of the engaged youth. Youth have the opportunity to work through their pain and loss and be a force multiplier, impacting families, schools and neighborhoods.

Stitchers is committed to placing youth at the center of the work both in identifying topics for exploration as well as the methods for engagement. This approach builds a community of youth and professional artists who respect one another. We are proud that our primary method for recruiting new youth is word of mouth from their peers.

The Collective meets with youth year-round and has presented publicly over 150 times, engaging a diverse audiences of over 18,000.

Together, we can do so much more for our at risk youth in Saint Louis. Please make a gift today to support Saint Louis Story Stitchers in the New Year—and beyond.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!