Stitchers Youth Council Spotlight: Keith

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 Keith, a member of the Stitchers Youth Council…

IMG_8564Keith is a 22 year old youth who is in the Urban League’s Save Our Sons program and who joined Stitchers Youth Council two weeks ago.

Keith said, “I lost my mother in June this year and that experience made me want to change my life style. I saw there was no one like my mother. I met Mr. Dennis, (Director of the Save Our Sons program at the Urban League) on the streets and after two weeks of waiting due to shame and embarrassment, I decided to walk in to the Urban League and ask Mr. Dennis for help. I’ve been helping out as much as I can but I also been living on the streets. I know its not the life for me. It’s hard. One day I was riding with Mr. Dennis and he took me to the Story Stitchers studio and I met Mrs. C who’s been very helpful to me. (KP Dennis is also Artist in Residence and a founding member of Story Stitchers).

I don’t think I would’ve met Mr. Dennis or Mrs C if I was in the same state of mind…

Keith Dean III and Cali IMG_8566I was depressed and lost after my mom passed and I didn’t think I would be able to do anything. She died on June 8th this year and I had buried her on June 16th so that her friend could come and see her one last time. I used to live with my mom and we were very close and I shared everything with her. Then when she was gone I was lost and had trouble coping with life. 

But now I’m in the Save Our Sons Program and I have a new job at a restaurant that I will start next week. I’m writing my ides, activities and thoughts down everyday for the Story Stitchers art project that I’m in called called The WHY of MY City. This past week I worked at Story Stitchers as a photographer for one of the performances at a school. I really liked that and it was fun. I never did anything like that before. This is one of my photos of the performers.


The 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!