KC Voices announces artist awards

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Glenn North and Chico Sierra have been selected to create artwork for KC Voices, a collaborative effort to involve residents and stakeholders in low-income, racially diverse neighborhoods in KCK and KCMO in sharing stories and information about how food policies shape our community, our opportunities and our plates. The collaborative addresses SNAP, WIC, school food and other programs contained in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and 2018 Farm Bill.

Each artist will receive $1,000 to create an original work that will be unveiled at a reception October 9 at Vox Theatre.

Since 1997, Glenn North has worked in KCK and KCMO to produce arts and culture programs that educate, uplift, and inspire disenfranchised communities.

He has established poetry circles, taught poetry writing and performance workshops in after school programs, and was poet-in-residence at the American Jazz Museum. During that time, he was appointed poet laureate of the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District.

In 2011, he began exploring the genre of visual poetry and continues to create poems in that form.

“Combining text with visual images provides a unique opportunity to convey messages that resonate with the viewer. Speaking as someone who, for over the past twenty years, has worked with youth in disenfranchised communities, I have seen the horrible impact that hunger and lack of access to healthy food has on the young people we should be nurturing. At a time when we are witnessing proposed cuts to WIC, SNAP and other federal assistance programs, there has to be a public outcry, and artists should be in the vanguard,” Glenn says.

Growing up in El Paso, Chico Sierra began crossing borders early. As a Mexican-American, he knows that sometimes borders can be fixed and severe, like crossing back and forth between Mexico and the United States. But oftentimes, borders are blurry or even non-existent.

Chico has moved from the United States, to Mexico, Canada, Germany, the Philippines and back. He is conscious of the flux of cultural diversity. That, in combination with the theme of blurred borders is expressed in the different mediums of Chico’s art.

“Coming from a mixed race family and neighborhood in El Paso, Texas, I am acutely aware of the subtle and not so subtle nuance of conversations based around race, ethnicity and community. This is not only present in my life experiences but it is also evident in the illustrative work I’ve done, my murals as well and the installations I have completed.  I am a product of my environment and a champion of those not seen,” Chico says.

Partners in KC Voices include UMKC’s Center for Neighborhoods, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, Historic Northeast-Midtown Association and KC Healthy Kids have partnered explore specific policies such as SNAP (food stamps), WIC, school food and other programs contained in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and 2018 Farm Bill.

Funding for this project was provided by the Health Forward Foundation and the Convergence Partnership.

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