True art speaks to your heart, and it inspires you to make a change in your community.

A GCSU associate professor of art, Valerie Aranda, and a few of her dedicated students have used art as an agent for change. As a part of the Bridges Peacejam Youth Conference, Memphis youth together with GCSU students created a mural that helped sow the seeds of change for one Memphis Community.

The Mural project was inspired by a tragedy that occurred in the Memphis Community of Lester, when a young man named, Jessie Dotson allegedly went on a shooting rampage. The results of the incident had only yielded six counts of first degree murder until the Memphis Youth and GCSU students took the initiative to heal the scars of this tragedy.

Under Aranda’s leadership, GCSU students, Jessica Peet, Tempestt Jackson, Anne Humphreys, Gabby Caraballo, Karla Leggat and Julia Allen assisted a group of Memphis youth in creating at 60 feet long and 11 feet high mural that stands proudly in the cafeteria of Lester Elementary School.

Aranda comments, “This mass murder left a heavy scar on the Lester Middle School community, and it seems that the creation of this mural has restored the morale of the community,”

The Peacejam youth have taken action against violence, and they used art as their vehicle for change. While this was a life changing, emotional experience, the journey was not complete for Aranda, her students, and the Memphis Youth. Aranda and her students returned to Memphis March 19 – 24, to assist the Peacejam youth in completing their artistic call to action.

As the Peacejam youth’s murals serves as a reminder to break the cycle of violence, we at A.A.C. encourage you to get involved in your community. There is no time like the present to SHUT IT DOWN!

Article Written by
Rochelle Smalls
Edited by Paul Ayo