In 2008, two years after Hurricane Katrina, I accepted a job with Louisiana Green Corp. I wanted to do something positive to teach and support young people who had returned to New Orleans and needed work. My goal was to teach basic construction, weatherization and job skills. I worked with young people between the ages of 16 and 24 years old. We did minor repairs and weatherized the homes of low-income home owners in New Orleans. It was an eye-opening experience–rewarding and heart-breaking. I quickly learned that many young people in New Orleans never leave their neighborhoods. On an early fall morning in 2008 I picked up a bright young person who was completely illiterate and 110 percent dedicated to changing her life and developing skills to better her life. We drove six blocks on the way to pick up another young participant. In front of Louis Armstrong Park, she asked me “what is that?” She had never been to this park that was six blocks from where she had lived for years. Eventually, the program’s funding ran out and I returned to focusing strictly on my art.
The Roaming Art Studio is inspired by this experience. My idea is to take the Roaming Art Studio to the heart of the New Orleans community. I believe that art can enhance the lives of the people across the city. The Roaming Art Studio can go into neighborhoods, focus on its social and physical characteristics and help people to recognize their commonalities. Art in and of itself can communicate to viewers a shared experience that they may find hard to articulate. The processing of those feelings may inspire viewers to look beyond what we believe to be possible and imagine a more vibrant future. Art also reminds us that we are all creative beings, whether we are making art or music. We are all sharing an experience that connects us. The Roaming Art Studio will go to underserved communities that do not have access to the arts due to limited resources, geographic locations and economic conditions.