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 Joshua, a member of the Stitchers Youth Council…
“My art is a mish-mash of different styles. I read and watch a lot of films to try to gather visual information. I spend five to six hours a day drawing. My favorite artists are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Egon Schiele, and Trenton Doyle Hancock. I enjoy being around other creators at Story Stitchers. I like when our different ideas and work come together through collaboration. I was looking for other artists to work with so this came at a perfect time in my life. It’s been fun- making friends, talking about art and learning from each other.
“I’ve been working with some of the dancers and I photograph them and draw them.
I am taking my skill of figure drawing and putting it to use here. The process would normally be that I photograph and film them while they are dancing and then I go back and draw them on my own. I use pencil, water color and ink. I also work in pastel and collage. The video below is a collaborative piece that shows some of my drawings with another youth named Anthony dancing.
I think Story Stitchers can build a large enough audience to start doing installations in art spaces. We are becoming better known in the region. Our work is something that’s desperately needed in the current political and social climate with the rising fear of gun violence and racial disparity that exists here.”
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 New Year