4Culture’s Creative Justice offers an arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County, Washington. Through collaboration with mentor artists, participants consider the root causes of incarceration as they intersect with racism, classism and other oppressions and focus on the positive role youth voice can have in building a more equitable justice system for our region.

Who are these mentor artists? The cohort changes each year based on the recommendations of a panel made up of professional teaching artists, youth and adult community members, and court representatives. This year’s panel recently convened and selected four incredible individuals that will give life to 2016 programming:

 

King Khazm. Photo © Cahn Nguyen

King Khazm. Photo © Cahn Nguyen

Daniel Kogita
Emcee, artist and organizer Daniel Kogita AKA King Khazm advocates for community empowerment through Hip Hop culture. As a bi-racial, disabled person from Seattle’s South end, Khazm’s story of perseverance is a testament to Hip Hop’s founding principles. He is the Executive Director of the non-profit organization, 206 Zulu Nation as well as the indie label, Fresh Chopped Beats/MADK Productions. Khazm’s commitment to nurturing youth has been recognized by communities around the United States and the world, as well as by dignitaries such as Hip Hop’s Godfather, Afrika Bambaataa, former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, and Governor Jay Inslee.

 

Olisa Enrico. Photo © Khadeidrah Cochran

Olisa Enrico. Photo © Khadeidrah Cochran

Olisa Enrico-Johnson
Olisa “Spyc-E” Enrico-Johnson has been rockin’ the mic for over 20 years. Born into a life of music, she began exploring theatre in 2003. She holds a BFA in Performance and an MFA in Theater Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University. Olisa believes that artists and the arts are vital to the state of culture and society and she hopes to share her soul through performance and teaching. A board member of TheConciliationProject.org, she works to promote open and honest dialogue about racism in America through active and challenging dramatic works. Olisa teaches students of all ages and stages. Her teaching, of any subject, incorporates principles of community and shared responsibility.

 

Jamil Suleman. Photo © Aaron Jacob

Jamil Suleman. Photo © Aaron Jacob

Jamil Suleman
Jamil Suleman is a Hip Hop artist, filmmaker, traveler, and teaching artist. Acclaimed in his field not only as an artist and educator, but as a community organizer, Jamil uses music and entertainment to educate and empower people to become the strongest versions of themselves. A passion for creativity, culture, and sustainability, drives Jamil to work with like-minded individuals in the pursuit of a socially just and ecologically equitable world for future generations.

 

Shontina Vernon. Photo © Joanna Degeneres

Shontina Vernon. Photo © Joanna Degeneres

Shontina Vernon
A returning Creative Justice mentor, Shontina Vernon is a storyteller, singer-songwriter, performer, and teaching artist. Her interdisciplinary work fuses live music, poetic narrative, and multimedia to tell the diverse stories of underrepresented communities. She is a National Performance Network touring artist, a recipient of 4Culture’s Art Projects Grant, and a nominated playwright on the Kilroy’s List. Her solo performance piece titled WANTED centers music in a coming of age tale about forgery, fear, and juvenile justice. Shontina’s work has been produced by Seattle’s ACT Theatre, SoloNova, Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas in collaboration with the Hansberry Project.

 

Aaron Counts will continue in his role as Lead Engagement Artist and Nikkita Oliver, a 2015 mentor artist, will assume the position of Case Manager.