Stitchers Youth Council Spotlight: Rachel

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 a resident organization at Kranzberg Arts Foundation in the vibrant Grand Center Arts District with a program space on the first floor of Hansen House, 3617 Grandel Square called “The Center”, and also run “Stitchers Storefront Studio” at 616 N Skinker Blvd. in the historic Delmar Loop District.

Meet Rachel, a member of the Stitchers Youth Council…

Rachel is a dual enrollment student at Metro High School where she plays basketball. She takes most of her classes at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. Graduating with her high school diploma and Associates degree, she will attend Webster University in Fall 2021. She will major in Music (Audio engineering) and Psychology hoping to become a music therapist and a record label owner. Her biggest goal is to challenge the culture Western Music and implement music from all around the world into her portfolio.

“I enjoy working with other artists, with kids, and interacting with the neighborhood. 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.

In February 2020, Rachel served as a youth writer, poet, and performer for Story Stitchers’  Black History Month performance of STAND DOWN RISE UP at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. She performed her original poem, “Gun in the Hand of a Child.”

In 2020, Rachel also served as a youth writer, poet, and performer for Story Stitchers’  project, The WHY of MY City, which premiered online in May. Rachel wrote and sings the second verse on WADE, a song that is part of The WHY of MY City. 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 was 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.

The goal for all Story Stitchers programs 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 including education on safe practices during Covid-19.

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 200 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 for your interest and your support.

Have a safe and Happy Holidays!