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Exploring transformative justice and culture through art | The Homepage

A large woman with medium brown skin sits in a chair in front of a gray backdrop speaking to a light-skinned woman with gray hair. A boom mic, a large lamp and a camera are visible in the foreground.
Tanya Johnson (left) during an interview with artist and Arts Excursions Unlimited founder Edith Abeyta for the “Story Shields” project in March. Photo by Heather Mull

By Erika Johnson

The group’s members have been exploring various events that cover topics ranging from mass incarceration to navigating complexities with relationships amongst crime and racial inequities.

Excursions have included “Teaira Whitehead” presented by the New Hazlett Theater, “Art in the Age of Mass Incarnation” with Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood at the Heinz History Center, and “Song of the North,” a Bridge Theater series featuring handmade puppets at the Byham Theater.

The organization’s members also attended the “Let’s Get Free” exhibit at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre, which featured compelling artwork and literature created by people in prison and posed this question: How do we build a pathway out of prisons and back into our communities?

Gladstone stories live on

Arts Excursions Unlimited’s very own Edith Abeyta is spearheading an innovative way to capture the stories of Hazelwood residents. Through the collaborative creation of Story Shields, narratives that often get lost when re-development happens will be integrated into a new building to chronicle experiences that keep the Hazelwood community so dynamic and culturally rich.

This project will be installed on a wall in the lobby of the Gladstone Residences. It will include 20 to 25 wooden wall-mounted wooden artworks and two to three free-standing pieces using the former school’s wooden auditorium seat backs. These are the shields which illustrate the interviews shown alongside them, with around 25 people sharing their Gladstone memories and experiences.

Art of Sound ends in April

Hazelwood-based Arts Excursions Unlimited will wrap up its Art of Sound workshop sessions with an exhibit and celebration with the participants and their families on April 17 at their studio.

Arts Excursions Unlimited

Arts Excursions Unlimited is fueled by the dedication and interests of its members and participants, ensuring cultural enrichment and engagement in the arts Greater Hazelwood residents. It was co-founded by artist Edith Abeyta and Hazelwood community members with a mission rooted in the belief that arts and cultural experiences have the power to transform lives and communities.

Meetings are at 5 p.m. on the last Monday of each month at 5125 Second Ave. Come shape the organization’s programming, ensuring that it aligns with Hazelwood’s interests and needs. Learn about and discuss community updates, events, excursions, and equitable job opportunities for AEU members. Meetings include a light meal.

AEU will continue to offer a diverse array of small excursions, workshops, and events throughout the month, catering to a wide range of interests including community shopping and monthly bingo. For transportation information and space availability for all excursions and workshops, please contact AEU Outreach Coordinator Tameeka Jones-Cuff via email at tameecuff01@gmail.com. Attendance at monthly meetings is mandatory to attend any excursions.

We look forward to continuing service to the Hazelwood Community, its members, and families through the arts. Wishing you a blooming April!

Erika Johnson is the music arts director for Arts Excursions Unlimited and a Hazelwood-based writer and artist.

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