Mentor Artists Join Creative Justice

2015 Creative Justice Mentor Artists

Creative Justice is a new arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County. Launching in February of 2015, the pilot year of programming will engage 48 youth and families involved with the juvenile court.

Through collaboration with mentor artists, participants will 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.

Aaron Counts, the Creative Justice Lead Engagement Artist, serves as program coordinator. He and a panel of stakeholders including professional teaching artists, community members (youth and adults), and court representatives recently selected the four incredible individuals that will help give life to the program:


Daemond Arrindell

Photo: Nora Nathoo

 “If we want youth to become productive, active members of our communities, we need to stop demanding that they do more with less. Transformation only becomes possible when we begin to treat them like the people we want them to be. I believe Creative Justice can provide a necessary path in this direction.” – Daemond Arrindell

Daemond is a poet, performer, and teaching artist. He is an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University and Cornish College of the Arts, faculty of Freehold Theatre and co-facilitator of poetry and theater residencies at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Daemond works with young writers in his role as Artist-In-Residence with Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program. He has performed in venues across the country and was recently published in Specter Magazine, was a 2013 Jack Straw Writer, and is a 2014 VONA/Voices Writer’s Workshop fellow.


Nikkita Oliver

Photo: Timothy Aguero Photography

 “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  – Scott Adams

Nikkita is a spoken word artist, teaching artist, and graduate student pursuing concurrent degrees in the School of Law and the College of Education at the University of Washington. As a teacher, she works alongside young people, helping them develop creative skills, tell their stories, and speak truth to power. As a student of the law, she has the capacity to teach youth about their rights and how to advocate for their communities. Nikkita has dedicated the last decade of her life to service in Seattle Public Schools and the King County Youth Services Center. She is currently the 2014 Seattle Poetry National Team Coach and Grand Slam Champion.


Otieno Terry

Photo: Hayley Young

 “I’m not saying that I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”  – Tupac Amaru Shakur

Otieno is a singer-songwriter (with roots in soul, hip-hop, and jazz), producer, teaching artist, and youth organizer. He believes that music strongly influences the minds of young people and uses his art to inspire positivity, self-confidence, discipline, and healing. As a part of the duo Hightek Lowlives, Otieno has collaborated with Owuor Arunga, Raz Simone, Brothers from Another and Gabriel Teodros, among others. He recently performed in Seattle Theatre Group’s More Music @ The Moore and headlined the John Coltrane Jazz festival in Senegal where he also spent time teaching at the University of Dakar’s School of Music. Otieno is the winner of EMP Museum’s 13th annual Sound Off! competition. He is involved with Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC).


Shontina Vernon

Photo: LaRae Lobdell

 “Youth, given the tools and the opportunity, will surprise us all with their clear observations and creative solutions to what is wrong in the world. We only have to know that their perspective is as valuable and insightful as any other.” – Shontina Vernon

Shontina is a writer, musician, performer, and teaching artist. Her passion is making interdisciplinary performance pieces that fuse live music, poetic narrative, and multi-media to tell the diverse stories of underrepresented communities. She has written numerous plays, including WANTED – a coming of age tale about forgery, fear, and juvenile justice. Her 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. She is a National Performance Network touring artist, and a nominated playwright on the 2014 Kilroy’s List. Her work as a teaching artist has been featured in the award winning documentary film STAGES. A believer in the transformative power of personal narrative storytelling, she also teaches the BLOOM workshop series, using theatre, creative writing and music to help women and youth tap into the power of their own voices.