We have vision, we have imagination…and we have paint. From the streets of Rochester, NY’s crime-ridden inner city to the flavelas of Brazil, young street artists explore how art brings forth the power to see beyond, move beyond, grow beyond the walls that poverty builds around them.
In the summer of 2015, artist Shawn Dunwoody led a project designed to offer employment to a group of five Rochester City School students and open their eyes to their creative potential through mural art. The youth we meet – Khari, Aziza, Ehpraim, Kokenis and Karina -- are confronted daily with the challenges of a neighborhood where 87% of residents live in poverty. The Fruitbelt Project shares “Words to Live By” and involves installations of uplifting and colorful messages in some of Rochester, NY’s most depressed areas. The young artists transform areas of blight and neglect, walls and lives, with inspirational quotes woven into the art to ensure neighborly investment and offer hope, security and joy – but that is only the start.
Our artists’ journey takes them from depressed neighborhoods in their own city, to the streets of Philadelphia and finally to Salvador, Brazil. Along the way they meet and work side by side with many artists – including Wall/Therapy artists from around the world as well as Rochester’s own FUA Krew -- whose life stories mirror their own. In the course of their travels, they experience remarkably similar interactions with neighbors wherever and whenever walls are transformed into an artist's canvass.
Through the eyes of these young artists, we see how both poverty and art are universal experiences regardless of the neighborhood you call home or the language that is on your tongue. Poverty builds walls that shut kids in – art has the power to tear down walls that confine us.