The Oracle

Suicide prevention group brings teen art to local eateries

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By Catalina Zhao:

Photo courtesy of Jade Chamness:

Palo Alto will be featuring about 100 pieces of artwork created by teens from all over the city. Break Through the Static, a Palo Alto-based suicide prevention group, will be hosting the exhibit at five local eateries on the weekend of March 16 through 18.  “This event is giving teenagers an opportunity to share their stories and express themselves through art,” founder and CEO of Break Through the Static Jade Chamness said.

For the past five months, Break Through the Static has been working with non-profit organizations and Visual Arts teacher Deanna Messinger to organize the exhibit. Students in Palo Alto Unified School District’s art classes and organizations have been working on pieces relating to the theme of personal experiences. “This is an opportunity for teens to express themselves by creating art that is rooted in their life-shaping events and experiences, their emotions, their passions—anything that speaks to them,” Chamness said. Messinger instructed her students along the same lines. “I presented the theme as a self-portrait asking them what it’s like to be them,” she said.

To help teens develop their pieces, Break Through the Static arranged two art retreats in December and February. In addition, Messinger’s students have been working in class, and some of their artwork is currently on display at the Gunn art exhibit in the district office until March 16. Art created by teens in non-profit organizations, such as Youth Community Service, Palo Alto Children’s Theater, Teen Advisory Board and YMCA, will also be present.

The Gunn art that will be on display was pulled from students from five of Messinger’s classes, including junior Emily Redfield’s acrylic on canvas piece that focuses on the peacefulness of a teen’s solitude. “I think the exhibit is a great idea,” Redfield said. “It’s different and forces people to think about the artwork and how the person who did it feels.”

The artworks will be spread out over five Palo Alto venues: Bon Vivante Cafe, Philz Coffee on Middlefield Road and Alma Street, Mike’s Café and Vino Locale. At all five of the locations, there will be a two-hour reception and live teen musical performances.

The goal of the event is to reinforce the well-being of citizens and communication in Palo Alto. “Our hope is that this event will strengthen the bond between teens, adults and local business owners in our community,” Chamness said. “It’s one more step towards bolstering teens’ resilience by providing them with an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and express themselves.”

The exhibit will also allow a look into the lives of teenagers. “These young people are Palo Alto’s future and going to be the next leg in the race,” Messinger said. “Students can speak up through their artwork.”
Chamness agrees this exhibit will shed light on important issues. “The pieces capture the depth and breadth of what teens go through and experience,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to be invited into the lives of Palo Alto youth. What an incredible opportunity!”

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Suicide prevention group brings teen art to local eateries