Oct 9, 2014

Working with youth to reclaim a sense of home through art

by: Nile Livingston

“There’s no place like home” said a Kansas girl in Oz. But what if the sense of home we all dream of is waiting for us at the tip of a brush?

I’m Nile Livingston, a visual artist and community advocate specializing in murals, sculpture and portraiture. This past summer, I served as Assistant Artist on Mural Arts Philadelphia’s journey2home project, a vibrant collection of murals and interactive installations focused on bringing more awareness to the thousands of youth in Philadelphia facing housing insecurity.

By working directly with youth who are facing or have faced housing insecurity, journey2home positioned local artists and youth as catalysts for positive change. I witnessed first-hand how the project gradually alleviated some of the negative effects of homelessness among youth. Through their presence in the program and the visibility of their artwork in the city, journey2home has helped young people to establish their place as contributing members of a community, created educational and vocational opportunities, and showed their potential to others.

My team arrived on the mural site early each day with their paint brushes in hand by the time we were scheduled to begin working. I would consider the youth’s interest in picking up the skills and attitudes necessary for employment a step into adulthood. For many, this was their first job. Over the course of painting the mural, I saw improvement in the team’s communication skills, stress management, and conflict resolution.

On a broader scale, journey2home created an accessible visual dialogue about social issues like joblessness, inequality, and injustice. Through journey2home, media outlets as diverse as Fox News and WHYY have been telling the story of young people facing housing insecurity today.

Read more about journey2home and housing insecurity at journey2home.org. On October 10th, 2014 from 4pm – 7pm we celebrated the dedication of Home Safe, the journey2home mural on the corner of 42nd Street and Lancaster Ave.

Last updated: Mar 21, 2016

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