Richmond organization marks 20 years of educating youth through art
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the heart of Jackson Ward sits an organization that uses art to change lives for the better.
Art 180 provides an outlet for area children and teens to express themselves, and although it has been doing that now for 20 years, it is still considered to be one of Richmond's "hidden gems."
Some people believe children should be seen and not heard, but it's quite the opposite at Art 180. You hear them long before you see them, and that's the way it was designed to be.
"We do different types of art. We do singing, dance, music, videography," teen leader Chloe Hagins said. "Through our space, we create like this sense of family."
Hagins, a rising high school senior, has practically grown up within this family, which she credits for two things: helping her find her voice and sparking her love for fashion and theater arts.
"It allows people to express themselves who aren't as vocal as most," Hagins said. "If there wasn't art, I don't know what the world would come to because it is like an outlet."
For two decades now, Art 180 has driven thousands of young lives to do a complete 180 by providing such an outlet through art programs for teens and preteens all over the area.
It happens thanks to the help of seasoned artists, writers, poets and dancers giving their time to help young people discover their gifts and bring them to the forefront.
But it's not all happening inside the teen center on West Marshall. The group also goes into middle schools and even juvenile detention centers.
"We teach art as a way of ascending your current circumstances," donor relations director Nicole Jones said. "We just try to make it accessible to everybody."
Jones, Hagins' mother, said she discovered the power of art over the years by watching the transformation in her daughter.
"As Chloe got more involved, I began to see her kind of like grow, learn more about herself, and kind of really open up in areas that she originally, you know, was kind of shy in because she was in a space where she felt like she didn't fit in," Jones said.
But with Art 180, it is not about fitting in. It is about standing out by being yourself.
"Art 180 is a community that really wants to elevate folks," Jones said. "When you understand artistry or who you are as an artist, it takes you places that you would have never even imagined you can go."
Whether getting to those places comes through the quiet stroke of a paint brush, or even the loud beat of a drum, it is all their voice. Art 180 wants to creatively ensure those voices are heard and seen for decades to come.
"Their artwork can tell a whole story," Hagins said.
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