Local senior artists share their life stories

Sandra Storey

Senior Life

For the 10th year in a row, local seniors—most from Jamaica Plain—and local teens are publicly sharing the results of their work together over recent months. A collection of stories about the seniors’ lives and Peace Drums they created are on display at the Jamaica Plain Branch Library on Sedgwick Street through July 29.

This year, for the first time, the stories are about the life experiences of many local artists the teens have worked with in recent years in workshops in the Peace Drum Project.

The Peace Drum Project is an after-school program for 20 teens ages 14-18 that helps them develop artistic, problem solving and critical thinking skills. In addition to offering workshops in a range of arts experiences, the program joins the young people with elders in the community to put the elders’ life stories in writing.

The project is part of the Tribal Rhythms program of Cooperative Artists Institute (CAI), located in Jamaica Plain.

“These stories bring to life the accomplishments of the older artists in our midst, and they serve to inspire the teens to seriously consider how a career—a life—in the arts would be for them,” according to the introduction to the story collection written by Peace Drum Project Director and JP resident Susan Porter.

“Each story is inspiring in its own way,” she wrote, “and together as a collection, they illustrate the tremendous variety of talents, cultural experiences, creative and spiritual authenticity of the arts and artists in our community.”

Senior artists who live or work in JP whose stories are included in the 140-page collection are: John Curtis Jones, Khalid Kodi, Paul Medling, Tom Menihan and Ginny O’Neil, Hakim Raquib, Susan G. Thompson and Anthony “Tony” Williams. Seniors from elsewhere who are profiled are: Barbara Ward Armstrong, Gary A. Rickson and Bob Walthall.

The teens who took part in producing the stories include: Livymer Caceres, Nancy Cardona, Merilin Castillo, Rogenzo Cruickshank, Jasmine Dozier, Abdiel Fonseca, Jessica Harris, Shannon Hills, Marjourie Jimenez, Ivan Richiez, Johniesha Smith and Erys Valdez.

The collection this year is dedicated to the memory of Charles M. Holley, the creator of the Peace Drum Project and co-founder of CAI in 1970.

For more information, see www.tribal-rythms.org/drum_exhibit.html or call Porter at CAI, 524-6378. The entire collection from this year will be on the web site soon after the library exhibit closes.

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