The 4Culture Public Art initiative, Creative Justice, offers an arts-based alternative to detention for court-involved young people in King County, Washington.

During each 16 week project session, participants engage in a variety of creative experiences and are provided opportunity to explore individual interests while developing skills in group collaboration. Creative Justice incorporates concepts of social art practice and uses a curriculum framework that considers how oppressions such as racism and classism intersect with the root causes of incarceration. The program utilizes art to amplify youth voices, as each session culminates in a community-based action or event produced and lead by the participants.

The Creative Justice sessions are facilitated by highly accomplished Mentor Artists who bring expertise in their specific disciplines as well as a wealth of community connection and cultural competence. The program is successful largely due to the talented core team of artist activists and the type of learning environment they provide. Launching year three with Aaron Counts and Nikkita Oliver again leading the program, we look forward to great things from the 2017 Mentor Artist cohort.

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Photo courtesy of Brad Puet.

Brad Puet is a photographer whose documentary work showcases the street and its lifestyle as his subject. A successful self-taught artist, his award winning work has exhibited in Tehran, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Jalisco, New York and Los Angeles. He regularly contributes to: Huffington Post, and About.com; and has been published in the Washington Post, Photo Magazine, VICE, Slate magazine, and The Guardian-UK. Brad is a proud co-founder of Grryo, formerly We Are Juxt, an international social photography collective. A dedicated youth mentor and community builder for many years, Brad (aka JoJo) is responsible for launching two local young artist movements: Isangmahal, and Seattle Youth Speaks. He regularly conducts workshops and presentations in partnership with area youth art-based organizations; and teaches social photography at Seattle Central College.

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Photo by Kelly O.

Silas Blak is a poet/emcee, a chef, and a mentor advocate by trade. He is a veteran of hip hop and a scholar of the verb. He has a strong passion for collaboration amongst the community and so has spent the excess of the last 10 plus years making music that speaks to issues we face in society and abroad. A valued and celebrated member of the region’s hip hop community since the 90s, Silas Blak has been recognized most recently for his new recording projects on Cabin Games label [#BlakFriday: The Mixtape; and Editorials: (wartunes)]. His truly original style and adept skill spitting complex bars about subjects most rappers seldom approach earned him a 2016 Stranger Genius Award nomination. Silas Blak has mentored youth at the Boys and Girls club, Alder detention facility, and Powerful Voices as an instructional coordinator and case manager; and at Evergreen High as a chef instructor.

Photo by Khadeidrah Cochran.

Photo by Khadeidrah Cochran.

Returning for a second year with Creative Justice, Olisa Enrico-Johnson (aka “Spyc-E”), shares truth and soul through performance and teaching. Rockin’ the mic for over two decades, Olisa lives her belief that artists and the arts are vital to the state of culture and society. She facilitates building connectivity, and has nurtured all-inclusive creative environments throughout the town via projects like Love-City-Love and Arts in Motion. Olisa holds a BFA in Performance and an MFA in Theater Pedagogy. Her efforts as a board member for theconciliationproject.org, promote open and honest dialogue about racism in America through active and challenging dramatic works. Whether it be as staff at Chief Leschi Schools, in the Creative Justice classroom, or through her work with any number of local partner projects, Olisa teaches students of all ages and stages always incorporating principles of community and shared responsibility.