Fall 2016 It’s a Wrap!

NVAM Teen Council ASM Fall 2016

What you expected coming in:

Freestyle Art/Relaxing Work

New Opportunities

A lot more drawing and painting

For Anne to be bae

New people

It will be awkward talking to people because I don’t like talking to people


I will be quiet and shy

New art projects

New painting skills


Making new friends

What it was actually like:

Cold, work, small space


Exciting and interesting


Hilarious! Loving, memorial, meaningful, exciting, awkward, packed

Fun, chill, safe space!!!

I was “myself” a bit too much, but very fun! 10/10 Would Teen Council again

Class related scene. Using art to connect to the museum. Still relaxing work.

Fun, but really crowded.

Took longer to the paint cause of the litter time during the week

Opinions overload

What was the most challenging aspect of program:


Being open, but not at the same time

Getting critique on artwork



Making space for time (time management)

Fitting it in with busy life

Artist statement

Have space or the artist statement

Not getting crazy and biting my tongue

What do you feel you improved on the most:


I have been more creative

Being likeable <3

Painting and texture

I tried new materials which was my goal (markers)

More talkative/open

My painting skills

Painting, I wasn’t that great at painting till now

I felt I improved on creativity

Painting more

Working as a group

Biggest take-away:

Able to become a little more outgoing

The picture i drew


I learned new painting skills

New friends

New great friends

Come on time and be prepared

Maybe it’s best not to state your negative opinions

Stay in Saturdays (being at home)

Push my art more

Sleeping in on Saturday and trying to finish my homework on time

New Goals:

Be less.. “Kurt”

Be nice to people who shouldn’t be treated nice

Expand in art

Passing Junior year and doing well in ACT

Glitter works

Paint more and improve on it

Not to judge people

Better at drawing

Practice pencil art/doodles

Paint more

Be more creative

Learning to expand my art mediums

Try oil painting

Advice for new members:

Push yourself

Bring Ramen

Always do your best

Just do what you do best, but learn new things

One person should bring food for one day for everyone

Bring food

Believe in yourself

Think positive

Plan ahead if you are going to take the CTA

Be nice

Prepare yourself for anything

Never wear nice clothes unless you are told to do so

Make sure to get out of your comfort zone and just try new materials if you are an expert with watercolors try acrylic lol

Bring money for food because they have good places around here

Comments/Questions (I wonder if…):

I wonder if breaks will ever get longer

I wonder if we would make more paintings if we have more time

I wonder if we could go beyond the surface when talking about mental illness

I wonder why is there segregation with people in program

You look a bit to be hungry

I wish we could Get along

I wish we had breaks on weekdays

I wonder why

The roof occasionally leaks but not often

I wonder if we could get lunch break on Tuesday and Thursday

I wonder if they should have program all year

I wonder if we will ever use oil paint

Vision Quilt Showcase at NVAM: Creative Community YOUmedia

On September 24, NVAM welcomed Vision Quilt founder Cathy DeForest to the the museum to present and discuss the work made by teens from throughout the city of Chicago during the summer of 2016.  Teens from Woodson and back of the Yards YOUmedia branches as well as the NVAM Teen council and community members gathered to share resources, reflect on the work made by students and hold dialogue concerning the ongoing trend of increased gun violence in Chicago and around the country.

During the showcase, young artists spoke of their personal experiences with gun violence both directly and indirectly.  Students from IMPACT family center shared about the frequency and subsequent frustration with gun violence in their neighborhood while NVAM Teen Council member Camile was moved to tears when she described the empathy and fear she feels knowing that youth and families are being killed in her city through gun violence.

“How many here have been affected by gun violence?” asked Cathy DeForest

Along with youth, community advocates listened and shared inspiration for hope for the future.  A mother of a child killed by gun violence read a poem while others shared insight into community involvement opportunites to make an impact and create positive change.


After the presentation the panels will remain on display at NVAM through the end of the month and then be made available at rallies, community meetings and  public display.  Learn more at www.VisionQuilt.org

From IMPACT Family Center:

It was an awesome #ConnectedLearning experience for IMPACT Family Center teens to participate in the Vision Quilt program with National Veterans Art Museum and YouMedia @ Chicago Public Library.
The used art in making panels for Vision Quilt to express themselves about #GunViolence.
Here is a photo essay.
Teens have many social/emotional issues and a voice about #ChicagoGunViolence.
Hive Chicago
MacArthur Foundation
Mozilla Foundation
Chicago Housing Authority
Chicago Department of Family and Support Services


Vision Quilt: Woodson Regional Library

In partnership with Vision Quilt, Chicago Public Libraries, Impact Family Center, Hive Chicago, and Chicago Community Trust, the NVAM Education team Christine Bespalec-Davis and Moki Tantoco hosted a series of workshops with teens to reflect of the impact of gun violence in their personal lives and in their communities at the Woodson Regional YOUmedia.

Teens are introduced to the Vision Quilt Project. Christine shows examples from NVAM Teen Council Vision Quilt panels created earlier in the summer.

Teens look at the AIDS Memorial Quilt presented on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in 1987 as an introduction on how many individual voices can come together to empower and inspire change. The teens are read Kim Stafford’s poem, “Proclamation to Peace” before sharing their experiences and opinions about gun violence.



Teens generate possible solutions to preventing gun violence through open discussion. These ideas are transfered into sketches on newsprint before finalizing onto Evolon 18″x 24″ panels.




After completing their Vision Quilt panels, teens share-out with the group their statements about the images and techniques used to create the panels. Examples include how rapidly news is spread through the modern form of communication of visual language, how gun violence tears apart families, that victims of gun violence are not only those who loss their lives, but family and friends, and how the targets of gun violence are predominantly young black males.

Teens from Impact Family Center and their panels.

Eric Garcia visits the Back of the Yards CPL branch YOUmedia

Teens from the Back  of the Yards YOUmedia visited NVAM in July at the beginning of their summer Creative Community workshop series. Operation Mom’s Couch, a solo exhibition by local artist and veteran Eric Garcia was on exhibition .  Through out the course of the Creative Community workshops, BoY teens made art in response to the NVAM collection as well as in relation to the art made by Eric Garcia including development of superhero characters that relate to personal stories or issues of importance to the teens, developing short comic strips and narratives and designing comic book covers.


These finished projects as well as other works in progress were shared with Garcia when he was able to visit the branch in August. Along with sharing the process behind his work, Garcia shared how his work has developed over time and offered insight into how to work with changing ideas and influences.  Teens and youth in the program used this inspiration to decorate the YOUmedia space by adding their superheroes to the glass windows that make up the walls around the space. Overall everyone had a ton of fun and learned a lot about ways art can be used to share ideas through our personal stories as well as humor.

Rock Your Drop: Drop of Consciousness

The National Veterans Art Museum Teen Council was established in July 2014. Since then, teenage artists have come together to explore art-making, collaboration, the artist practice, and the veteran art movement as a whole. Working alongside artist mentors, the Teen Council members considered how their individual experiences living in Chicago fit into the larger context of promoting peace. The artwork featured includes individual and collaborative ideas in response to peacemaking using installation, painting, graffiti arts, drawing, and mixed media collage. There are specific references to Chicago, using symbols of the city: skyline and landmarks, the Chicago flag, flowing water in reference to the lake and river, cleansing, healing, and rebirth, hands reaching out towards peace, recent articles and text about gun violence, and flowers as symbols peace, tranquility, and purity. NVAM Teen Council uses art-making as an instigator of change and asks the question: How do we come together?


Reaching for Hope
Elias Gallegos & Juanita Rodriguez
Often when we see something shining into the water it gives us a sense of loss or something fading away. Lately, people have seemed to lost their sense of compassion or remorse for others and even their ability to grasp the significance of taking a life. The Drop of Consciousness represents those feelings, so using the necklace as a symbol of these values, I had it sinking as a way to show how we’ve lost these values. The hand reaching in to grab it was a way of showing that we can get these values back if we try to. I want to thank Juanita for helping me paint that water even when she was helping with another project. I also wanted to point out that the lack of skin color was mainly to show the lack of need to identify a specific race other that the human race.



Who You Are Today
Kate Pensamiento and Juanita Rodriguez
My project is addressing issues that relate to being a young adult today. There are many events that have a huge impact on an individual that can change their perspectives. Violent events leave a negative view in their eyes that can make them fear certain parts of the world.  No one should fear life but some people have no other option due to the violence happening around the world.


The Chicago Drop
Joseph Torres
My piece uses 3 separate but valuable symbols: the Chicago skyline, the Chicago flag and the tear/drop of consciousness.  Each individually has its own meaning but the way in which I am presenting them combines the flag with the tear/drop and uses the skyline in the background as a sense of “home.” The drop on the flag represents a universal sense of sympathy for the families of Chicago.  The tear being on the flag is also stating that as an individual we are small, but if we all come together for the sake of the city then we are strong and can overcome the struggles.  The skyline offers relief and harmony. The flag is a symbol of our loyalty to Chicago and being united for a better future.


Celestial Drop on Tragedy
Michelle Duran, Isabella Garza, Grace Deer, Camila Cortez, Jaliyah Lodygowski, Layla Bowling
Our project was made of many complex parts coming together into one unified message and work of art. In one part of this project, a textured gold canvas was covered with building and clouds at the bottom. This was done to represent the landscape in heaven. On a separate canvas, a lotus flower was placed within a body of blood-red water.  This symbolizes hope in the midst of violent conflict.  We considered the meaning of the lotus flower which includes: rebirth, purity and creation. These images are layered on top of one another to add emphasis to the many sections. Our use of 3D and @d was done in order to show that hope exists in the real world, not just in fairy tales.



Drops of Society
Christopher Lopez, Mya Gonzalez, Michael Gonzalez, Layla Bowling, Matthew Gorski
The inspiration for “drops of society” was shootings that have plagued the American society. We used paper machè to create three drops and made three yarn balls filled with articles of shootings that have happened throughout the U.S.  The reason why we made so many drops was to symbolize all the tears that people have cried over these tragedies.


The Rising Rose City
Sema’J Young
I originally got my idea from the internet when I saw a white rose. THe white rose had a black background, so I interpreted the rose as being pure. I took that idea and colored the rose a bit more than half way to say the red rose was becoming pure again. The tear drops falling from the rose causes the rose to lose color which makes it pure again, or it’s rebirth. The drops that land on the city are cleansing the city by making it innocent again. The city is rising from its bad aspects and from the ground. That is how I obtained THe Rising Rose City.

The Healing Flood
Alexis Yracheta
The message behind my watercolor painting is against gun violence. My painting is based on the handful of neighborhoods in Chicago that are facing gun violence everyday. The gray girl walking down the center of the painting represents an unidentifiable nationality, meaning that it can be anyone who can be hurt in these places. The “Drops of Consciousness” are falling from her hands and creating a flood at the bottom of the painting. The flood is then cleansing the neighborhoods from the gun violence. With more people joining the movement or contributing to stopping gun violence, we’ll all be able to cleanse every city from gun violence.


Conscience & Peace
Christopher Funez and Deasija Kelly
As a citizen in Chicago I worry about being safe in my neighborhood. We collaborated together and created a poster to voice our opinion and stop the violence. In the poster, Conscience & Peace, there are different colors, shapes, and sizes of hands reaching towards a tear drop. The hands represent the different citizen ages and genders. The teardrop represents consciousness. The message our piece is sending out is that the Chicago community should attempt to find the conscious to end violence and enforce peace.


Brian Rock Workshop: No Art for Art’s sake

Brian Rock, from New Mexico came to do a workshop with the NVAM teen council. Brian grew up in Belfast, Ireland during a war, and moved to the U.S. to enlist in the army. He served as a post- 9/11 veteran and was in the army for over 10 years. After serving, he decided to channel his emotions in a healthy way. Instead of punching walls, he threw paint, instead of shooting people, he shot at canvas’s. Cement, dirt, manicans, cigarette ash, shells, photographs, and anything else he could find are all things Brian would mix with paint, and layer onto a extrodinarily large canvas’s. In this workshop we were split into groups of four and were each group was given a canvas, and acrylic paint .We used sand and dirt to create texture in our paintings, some of us added bits of surgical gloves and napkins. We had a fun time letting our selves get messy, and not caring where the paint fell on the canvas. Once we all agreed that we had a nice base with lots of textures and patterns, we switched our canvas with another group’s. We used house paint and the back of a paintbrush to swirl and drizzle the paint. Brian told us to use emotion and to try and think of a feeling when we were layering the colors. In the end, the pieces all look extremely different and unique, we all went around and expained what our piece meant, and what emotion we were trying to convey through the piece. It was a great experience, and a great learning exercise. Thank you Brian Rock.

The artwork created from the workshop:

Vision Quilt: NVAM Teen Council Panels

NVAM Teen Council participates in a nationwide initiative to create awareness of preventing gun violence by being the first Chicago group to create panels for Vision Quilt. Vision Quilt is a national grassroots community arts project that emerged as a response to the escalation of gun violence in the US. Teen Council members spent two weeks discussing, designing, and creating panels incorporating their personal experiences and views on gun violence in Chicago on evolon using interdisciplinary medias from drawing and painting to spray-paint, sculpture, and collage. These panels along with others created in YOUmedia branches at the Back of the Yards and Woodson Regional Chicago Public Libraries will be showcased at the National Veterans Art Museum on Saturday September 24th, 2016 with a special visit from Vision Quilt Founder, Cathy Deforest.


Matthew Gorski
This panel is important to me because it is about gun violence in Chicago and the need for stricter gun laws.  I do not know what would make one person want to kill another person but if it continues it would be like World War III starting here in our country. If the police and the Mayor (Rahm Emanuel) do something about it, these deaths would stop. More lives will be saved if we have gun laws.


Chris Lopez
My piece is important to me because it it highlights one of the things our society struggles with– gun violence.  It shows a before and after image of a man held at gunpoint and then is shot. I chose the glasses to portray this story as a way to reflect this event and its aftermath and also as a reference to the death of John Lennon who was shot, leaving behind a memory and his glasses, broken and stained with blood.


Mya Gonzalez
DESENSITIZATION: to make someone less likely to feel shock or stress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images.

This is 2016.  Everywhere we look there is violence. Whether you click on the hashtag Black Live Matter or go on World Star, violence is seen as something normal. This piece is about how media and the extreme events around us play a role in the desensitization of the human mind. Along with this desensitization comes the behavior of people exposed to it– shooting and killing, not thinking twice of what will happen.  There are peaceful protests, but you also see people throwing rocks and tear gas.  The woman on my panel is attached to the events that end up overwhelming her. Everything she sees slowly turns to shades of grey and black shadows.  She has become numb.


Camila Cortez
Causes of gun violence and its spread through communities varies tremendously. My piece focuses on experiences and media that might cause a growth in the use of guns for taking the lives of others. The plug connected to the photo of dueling gun to the brain and sniper rifle under the head together shows how violence can infiltrate the mind but the blue bullet, fireworks and dove show how the brain transforms the violence, replacing it with something humane. Instead of banning or restricting certain materials from society it is our job to change our minds and educate others on how people in the community should be viewed and treated. All we have is an endless cycle of blame and trying to force others to change. Humanity can’t change until we’ve changed ourselves and think rationally.


Grace Deer
The panel shows how the world is now. Violence is taking over our city and filled with so many read hands. Buildings that are tall enough to touch the sky are destroyed. A pool of blood slowly takes over the city due to the amount of death and crimes. The silhouette of a man stands in the middle of a pool of blood with a tear of blood falling down his face.  He represents a victim’s family member, filled with sadness.  Hand prints are on both sides representing the victims who died in vain.  Overall, violence isn’t the answer.


Elias Gallegos
I used the analogy of a rose to show how violence has greater costs that the act itself, often defacing the world as a whole. I represented that with a simple rose, splattered with blood of whomever was shot with the gun lying on the ground. Something once peaceful and natural is now graphic, violent and dying represented by its leaves and petals blowing away. In a sense, my piece is saying the world itself dies a little with each act of violence.


Jaliyah Lodygowski
I decided to use an image to send a message.  My inspiration for this came from a hunter’s point of view. The message is that there will be chaotic destruction if gun laws are not put in place. In contrast, if we do make gun laws, it can lead to peace and quiet.


Michael Gonzalez
I used the gun on the shield to show that you should only use guns to defend yourself and not to use it for violence. I felt the guns shouldn’t have to be banned because it’s a basic right we have. We just need to have more people have more self-control of guns other than controlling guns. Drawing in not my best medium, so I chose to use clay and then later do an image transfer so it will have 3 Dimensional qualities into a 2 dimensional plane.


Sema’J Young
I originally got my idea from the question, “What could be the cause of human mass extinction?”  Everybody kept saying it is pollution or the sun will burn us to death, etc. etc.… but I think it is gun violence, war and prejudice that will lead us to mass extinction.  If we continue to kill each other then who will be left to continue our reign on earth? It has a deeper meaning than just “stop the gun violence”– it is more “save us from ourselves.”  We are the cause of our own destruction.


Joseph Torres
I envisioned a piece that uses quotes to convey my message, objects to symbolize violence and death and then putting it all together to make this anti violence quilt panel.  The bullets represent corruption and the blue hands symbolize the phrase “hands up.”  Since these are my hands, it shows how I feel towards the topic with the belief that many people should come together as a community to end the bloodshed.  The bullet with the question mark asks “What’s next?”


Alexis Yracheta
The purpose behind my vision quilt is against gun violence that is happening and affecting families all over the country. The image on the quilt symbolizes a faceless girl who is unidentified of her nationality. This is because I wanted to show that anyone from any nationality or gender can be shot. It is not just people of color or white people being killed. It is not one life that matters, it’s all lives that matter.  This is the message behind my vision quilt.


Kate Pensamiento
My inspiration behind my quilt panel was the inner child.  I saw multiple bright colors as a way of keeping oneself happy.  I drew a group of people holding hands as a symbol of coming together, showing love and spreading it to others.  My slogan was “And we’ll rise up” meaning the good will overcome the bad.  When looking at the quilt, remember that the world is your stage and everyone plays a specific part I n your life; whether it’s big or small. We all learn to work, learn, love and grow together in our own ways.


Michelle Duran 
Violence usually begins with some form of hate. Whether it be revenge, envy, or retaliation. The human mind becomes vulnerable to extreme wrath once the mind is obscured from common sense. This project reflects a murderers experience on gun violence. A murders motive is to seek satisfaction and remove the victim out of the picture with bloodshed. In reality the murderer will eventually “see” the monstrosity that he really is. As his hatred averts its focus to himself, he will realize he doesn’t want satisfaction; he wants forgiveness. As his victim lay forever in silence, the murderer is forbidden from ever receiving that forgiveness.


Juanita Rodriguez
My piece for the Vision Quilt is black and white. The letters “S.O.S” stand for “Save Our Souls”. They’re made by different types of guns in order to show how many there are. The border in my piece is made out of barb wire to show that there is no escape to the violence. People want to end violence, but they’re fighting it with more violence. Gun violence shouldn’t be part of the social norm. This quilt piece is to show that we need to put a stop to gun violence. We need to make the world safer so kids can go outside to play and not be scared of getting caught 0r shootings.


Layla Bowling
The message I want to portray with my piece is that America is hurting itself, more than helping it. Gun violence is a war within itself for America. The paint splatter represents the bloodshed in war and how violent, and full of hate war is. The flag is not perfect, the lines are not straight, and the stars are not even stars. America has a lot of things it needs to fix, it is not perfect. The soldier is hurt, he has bullet wounds and scratches, this a very literal representation of how soldiers are disposable to America.


Chris Funez
My piece, We Make the World, is about how every group in the world makes up the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re White, Black, Muslim, a part of the LGBTQ+ community or any religion that you are. So in my piece I’m showing that if we all come together as a whole and stop fighting each other and killing each other we can have peace in the world and we can stop gun violence. In my piece I’m showing that we don’t need violence among all of these groups we can just have each other and instead of killing one another every day for no reason.


Deasija Kelly
As a citizen of Chicago, I worry about my daily safety. To voice my opinion I made a vision quilt that protest against gun violence in Chicago. In the painting there is a gun that is firing four bullets which fall into a pile of blood. Inside the blood there are four bullets and a few other objects that have a connection to gun violence in Chicago. For example the badge in the blood is known as the police because the most recent crimes have been categorized as police brutality. It meaningful to me because others fear for their lives just as much as I do and I want them to know they are not alone.


Summer 2016 Week 1

First Day- Tuesday July 5, 2016
For the first day of teen council at the National Veterans Art Museum, we took a tour around the museum and the general teen space we will be working on our future work. After most of the roster arrived to the museum, we all did introductions of each teen present to get to know each other. We later participated in a Q and A of Ned Rick’s experience as a veteran. After Ned’s presentation, we ended the day with in progress work on self-portraits onto little post cards.

Second Day – Wednesday July 6, 2016
On the second day, the NVAM teen council completed their self-portrait post cards. Next, we began our next project: creating covers for personal sketchbooks. We worked on the covers for the rest of the day.

Third Day – Thursday July 7, 2016
NVAM teen council continued on their covers before transitioning in sowing out their personal sketchbooks. We added paper inside the cover before puncturing in holes to sow the sketchbook together. The teen council independently wrote twenty-five memories on their first page of the sketchbook. After some critical thinking, we broke down into three to five memories and descriptively demonstrated our memories. Our final decision was to choose one particular memory and look back to at least five objects in the event. We sketched the objects in our sketchbooks.

Fourth Day – Friday July 8, 2016
On the last day of the first week of NVAM teen council, we chose one memory to use for a theme of our new project. Each of us chose unique ways and art styles to project what we remember. We chose different materials for patterns and used 3D effects to add more details. After finishing up our project, we wrote reflections to how we felt at the beginning of the week to how we feel now.

A warrior is… // What is a warrior?

On Thursday March 3, NVAM Teen Council visited the Art Devour Foundation to see veteran artist, Folleh Tamba‘s exhibition “Wars in Our Time“. In response to this exhibition and Folleh’s prolific use of writing and poetry the teens created haikus (a form of traditional Japanese following a 5-7-5 syllable structure) exploring “A warrior is…” or “What is a warrior?”



A warrior is…

Warriors are strong.

They are funny and cool, they

have courage, how about you?



A warrior is…

Warrior the bold.

Masters of war, stand tall now.

Their faith unshaken.


Who am I today?

Torn away or given hope.

Lonely warrior.



What is a warrior?

From rags to armor

Emerged from the thorns of war

Now shines golden trust



A warrior is…

Someone brave and dumb.

Crowded with judgement of all,

Lifting all sorrow.





A warrior is…

Never ending nights

Stand up for love and justice

Sleep is for the weak.



What is a warrior?

Warrior is a

Person who fights for all of

Their friends with honor.




A warrior is…

Person who is brave.

Warrior is a leader.

I’m strong during war.



A warrior is…

Warrior you ask?

Someone big strom smart and fast?

You are your hero.



What is a warrior?

A warrior is,

A leader who conquers fears,

And makes history

Ring of Unity

Restless are the most furious of men

So are the nights, left in the dark

A heavy toll is taken on all

and scars reopen to the families

Your new friends give comfort through the night

and sadness grows in thought

that one day they will be seen

behind the horizon and quickly slain

Prayers to the lost land and dreams

heard beyond the fields so silent

sun rise as they sing songs of love

to bring the ring that had bounded them

-Alejandro H.

Identity Image -Kayla S.

My drawing is based off of the song Lost Boy By Ruth B. This is the song I live by. Everytime I’m upset I listen to this song and cherish the lyrics. The song is based off of the Peter Pan tales. Ruth B sings about how one day, when she was alone and sad Peter Pan flew down to her taught her how to fly on her own and took her to neverland as their very own lostboy. Sometimes as a teen we just feel as though we need to get away from drama and be free. This song is my getaway.


He Named Me Malala – Chris F.

When we went to go see the movie “ He Named Me Malala “ at first i thought it was going to be be boring and i thought i wouldn’t like it, but after the movie was over i really enjoyed it because she went through alot and alot of people did bad things to her and she didn’t hold a grudge or wanted revenge but instead she forgave them. It really stood out to me how passionate she was for women’s rights and how she was really worried and wanted girls to have an education and it really stood out to me because now of days teenagers now of days don’t care about important things like that.

Saholt’s Highway to Hell – Pen

The NVAM team and I had gone to see a presentation of a World War II veteran, Richard Saholt. The notes taken were very emotional and inspiring. I never knew that a single human being could have been suffering through so much pain. It made me feel aware of my surroundings and to be grateful to what I have. Throughout the presentation, I could only think about my own uncle who was once a Marine; could he have been feeling the same way?




Contemporary Dance Reflection: Skye

I dances and the ideas being them were interesting and extremely touching. They were also relatable and   they kept my attention.The focus being the poems and how they connected to the dance were artistically creative and gave me a better  look into the war and what happens in it. It also expressed the effects that the war has on several people including the families of the soldiers.

Silence Discussion Review: Skye

The discussion that we had on silence was very informal and interesting. We discussed what silence means to us and how it effects us a person or how it effects our lives and sometimes other peoples lives. I believe that silence can be a positive thing and also sometimes negative depending on the situation. ” Your mouth is like the silencer on James Bond’s pistol.” -Inez. This quote means that silence can either make or break you. Silence  helps me be productive and focus. Silence also can be a downer to certain situations such a bullying or abuse.

He Named Me Malala: Skye

The movie was extremely interesting and it gave me a good outlook on what happens in Iraq, Pakistan, and other Arabian countries. The fact that Malala was named after a female war protester and grew up to do the same things that were fulfilled by the woman in which whom she was named after is a great thing. Also the fact that the woman was shit and killed in war while Malala was shot, survived, and continued to fight was a great achievement and shows strength along with bravery. I recommend the movie for anyone that may be interested.

Twenty Two : Poem by Inez based on Project 22 film

Twenty Two:

They walk in…minds set on returning or dying hero.

Not knowing that a single pull of a trigger out their soul.

They fight and walk, the face of warrior…

Not thinking that their faces could be forgotten as soon as it’s down in the opposing soil.

They come out…


Doubted and crowded by a world that thinks that all of their locks are opened,

Eyes filled with tears,

never to be shed…

Nights of twisted gears,

as they lay in bed…

dreams of war,

And all of those lost,

along with pain, sorrow, and thriving for normal once they have to pay the costs.

Dead and gone…

mentally and physically especially when they’re alone.

Fake smiles,

minds gone wild …

Screaming like a newborn child,

precious hurt, long days…

glorious shame…

Trying to find a better way to get rid of the pain,

by commiserating themselves with pain,

when shifted by memories and shaped by vain.





Howls and screams into the night,


letting go of the fight.

You think its only when they’re in,

when they have the fright,

But its really inside–

their minds,

when they believe the only way out…is suicide.

Lost and not knowing what to do.

Begging for help,

and then for it all to go away,

broken hearts,

pill bottles,

deeper shades…

shadows and darkness fading deeper,

brightness go blue…

lets get out the awareness,

of the shattered heroes…

pick up the pieces,

put them back together…,

and break…the 22.

Intuit Museum: Inez

The museum is very nice and the artist who are showcased are incredible. One artist that was the highlight of the trip but also personally too out to me was Richard Saholt. Shallot was a war veteran who shouldn’t necessarily have been drafted into the war seeing as to the fact that t he had a mental illness prior to. He did his time in the war and came returned with P.T.S.D. a mental illness that sadly, effects a lot of men/women who go into the service. He also was diagnosed with schizophrenia. With this he used his mental illness as an advantage when it came to his art and what he pursued in life. Richard is well known for his collage pieces all based on his mental illness’, the effects that they had on him, and sometimes social/political issue that occurred at the time of his life including that of deaths of celebrities in which whom he felt a somewhat favor to. His art is vey inspiring and gives a great input into the lives of war veterans before/after their service time. I would recommend this museum and its art to anyone who is interested. Very inspiring!

Malala’s Story and Mission – Emily T.

Malala was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, a town north-west of Pakistan. She loved learning and going to school. In 2009, as the Taliban’s military hold on Swat intensified, Malala began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, about fears that her school would be attacked and the increasing military activity in her town. Television and music were banned, women were prevented from going shopping and then Malala’s father was told that his school had to close.

Malala and her father received death threats but continued to speak out for the right to education. Around this time, Malala was featured in a documentary made for The New York Times and was revealed as the author of the BBC blog. In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. In response to her rising popularity and national recognition, Taliban leaders voted to kill her.

On October 9, 2012, as Malala and her friends were coming home from school, a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Malala survived the initial attack, but was in a critical condition. She was moved to Birmingham in the United Kingdom for treatment at a hospital that specializes in military injuries. She was not discharged until January 2013 by which time she had been joined by her family in the UK.

The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan. In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly quickly ratified Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
Malala became a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. Malala accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2014 with Kailash Satyarthi. She started the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change.


Hello, I am Juanita. I am part of the NVAM teen council. One of our first project was to draw five objects that describe us. I’m not very artistic or creative but I was proud of two of my drawings. I love Superman and I consider myself a hero. I like to help others and try to pass positive vibes so that people could have a good day. That’s why my first drawing was superman. My second drawing is my black converse and some leaves. Well, I’m basically obsessed with converse, especially my black converse. I started wearing converse when I started to open up and be myself. Thats why my converse have such a great significance in my life. I was kind of feeling fall so thats why I added leaves.


Meosha’s Motivation – Emily T.

Meosha came into NVAM to speak about her experience on November 7th, 2015. I did not think that her speech would’ve had such an impact on me, but it moved me on an unexplainable level. She started her speech talking about how she chose to join the military because two reasons: her friend, and her financial concerns. Meosha was an only child and was raised by her single mother, so it would not be surprising to hear that her mom rejected her proposal. After a long discussing with her mom, her mom decided to support her decision. Meosha then shared her complicated and tough experience at bootcamp with us. She graduated at the top of her class and was given the opportunity to choose where to spend her next years to work. She originally had her mind set on Hawaii, but ended up choosing Italy. This was a big change for Meosha because it was her first time out of the country.

In her stay at Italy, a volcano had erupted. Instead of evacuating like the other residents, Meosha was required to stay and assist in any way possible. Another traumatic event that occurred in Italy was a helicopter accident; this tragedy took four of her friends’ lives. She had to live with this memory and it hurt each time she thought of it. She described this pain as a “moral injury”, an injury that others cannot see.

After Italy, she was transferred to Iraq. Mesh had to leave her family and her child behind to serve her country. She described Iraq to be a setting where she ware in pain, calm, and aware. Her most unforgettable moment in her stay was when she was in a vehicle with three fellow soldiers and the car hit a land bomb. Meosha was the only survivor completely because she got thrown out of the vehicle.

After this horrible event, reconstructive surgery was necessary and the doctors even suggested a leg amputation. Luckily, Meosha’s mother did not allow her daughter’s leg to be amputated. Meosha woke from her coma cuffed and panicked. She slowly recalled and processed what happened and understood that she needed physical therapy in order to talk again. In the meantime, her life remained on a wheelchair. During this period she described it as a “suicidal and dark” time where she did not see the light in her life. She would cry during her physical therapy sessions and refuse to participate.

Days had gone by where Meosha refused to shower or participate in any activities. This continued until her best friend came and pointed out that she had an unbearable odor and that she needs to get it together. Meosha told us that her friend saved her live by telling her to keep holding on because “she survived for a reason”.

In the end, Meosha described that death was a reality that we have to accept. Although she had experienced many near death experiences throughout her military career. She was asked “If you were given a choice to go back, would you redo this military experience all over, or choose a different life path?” Her response was that she would do it all over again because the choices she made in the military shapes her character which shaped her into who she is now and she would never do anything to change that.

NVAM Reflection – Emily T.

My experience at NVAM teen council was wonderful. When I signed up, I didn’t realize that I would be meeting teens from different grades and schools. An unexpected event was the fact that I made so many new friends at teen council. Moki and Alison were both wonderful instructors that have helped me learn and open up to new ideas. They are both adults I can trust and share any problems I had in school or in my life. They also provided many field trips to expand our knowledge of a veteran’s life and thoughts. We were given the chance to create an ofrenda to commemorate the twenty-two veterans that commit suicide on a daily basis. After creating the ofrenda, we got to display it at a public area with many other foundations who have created ofrendas for their passed loved ones. Another project we worked on was a repeated wallpaper activity. This activity was quite complicated at first, but the finishing piece took me by surprise by how great it turned out. I will definitely be applying this activity in my future life; whether I decide to create a pattern for clothes or a repeated pattern for my personal enjoyment. Overall, my experience at NVAM was incredible because of the enjoyment and the great memories I created with my fellow peers throughout these past few months.

Working with Stuart Hall– reflection by Sema’J

Stuart is a fantastic person to work with. He’s so passionate about his work and what he does. He taught about appropriation and installation. I never had so much fun doing work before until I met Stuart. He’s easy to talk to and chill with because he is a chill person. At times, he can be a little too goofy but he’s still fun. I enjoyed being with Stuart. He has left a long lasting impact on NVAM Teen Council.

FDG-Humboldt Park

Over the past two weeks NVAM Teen Council has had the time to work with the featured artist, Stuart Hall, on his ongoing body of work entitled “Fleurs De Guerre”. Stuart has been an Artist and Curator in the Chicago Arts Community for over four years and spent 2 weeks with our Teen Council sharing his art practice with us but also teaching us how to make art that re-appropriates and activates spaces around us.  Following our Fluers De Guerre project (which you can also read about on our blog) we developed an installation that would be set up in Humboldt Park.  We divided into 3 groups. Each group focused on a current event or issue that they felt passionately about and came up with a gesture that represented and symbolized this cause.

1–A figure with a watering can:

“The watering can represents water usage and natural resources.  The message of this piece is to represent the many ways people use water as well as the excessive use of water and the need for increased conservation of our natural resources.”- Erin A. and Chris F.


2– A figure holding signs over their face- each representing a different Social Media website

“We chose to make our silhouette represent social media because it is a big part of the world today. Also because a lot of people are letting it control who they are and how they behave.  Our silhouette is holding symbols from different social media sites that cover the face to change our opinion of who he/she is.” -Daryl G, Asia J and Keunte W.


3– 3 figures with their hands up showing innocence, out to the side showing vulnerability and one pointing its fingers like a gun representing Gun Violence

“My group did a silhouette about gun violence. These silhouettes show how guns are used to hurt many people. Cops are killing colored teens and kids while gangs are killing other kids their age and harmless bystanders.” – Keon C., Jalean, Sema’J Y., Jessica T, Jessica D, Kayla, and Chris L.


We cut out silhouettes of these gestures and in only 3 days made 6 cut outs and over 200 flowers to install in the park! It was a lot of fun to set up the art outside and to experience how people walking around the park repsonded to the art.  Most of the people we talked to really liked the work.  It was very windy so we learned a lot about how to fix problems on the spot!  The art work was left up in the park for 2 weeks.