Three artists 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.
They are emerging artist Cheyenne Banda, muralist JT Daniels and poet Natasha Ria El-Scari.
Each artist has received $1,000 to create an original work that will be unveiled at a reception on the evening of April 25 at Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. From there, the works will travel to area offices of elected officials and civic leaders to raise awareness about the importance of food assistance programs.
Art for KC Voices Reception
April 25 | 5 to 7 pm
Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center
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 in whole by the Health Forward Foundation and the Convergence Partnership.
Cheyenne Banda is a self-taught artist who found an escape and freedom in her sketchbooks at an early age. She works with a variety of disciplines including painting & drawing, graphic design, woodworking and wood burning, and photography as well as more ephemeral media such as chalk art, body paint and special effects makeup. She hopes her art will inspire others to find their voice through any form of artistic expression.
Cheyenne grew up in KCK and has had first hand experience with poverty and the poverty of this community. She’s been involved with a local food pantry for six years and has helped feed many members of her community. “…and they have fed me,” Cheyenne says. Through her experience, she’s learned a lot about food insecurity and how important it is for people to feel secure.
In 2018, she created a mural for Community Health Council of Wyandotte County and received Youth City Network’s Creative Innovator Award in 2017 in recognition for her contributions to the organization.
Kansas City based artist JT Daniels, has been honing his skills in community-based murals for the past few years. Originally a fine artist, JT gradually transitioned into illustration, which he combined with his five years of youth and community development experience, bringing about the perfect marriage of his two passions. JT’s evolution into community murals allowed him to introduce another element to this union and extend the range of his talent even further. His use of multi layered characters, which represent the various people he interacts with in these communities, are woven together with phrases, and transformed into streamlined designs that represent the heartbeat of the urban community.
JT grew up in KCK’s Historic Northeast neighborhood and eventually lived with his wife there. Recently, they and their three children moved across the state line to KCMO’s Historic Northeast neighborhood. There, he was a youth advocate at Mattie Rhodes Center for nearly five years, working with students in middle and high schools in the neighborhood.
He also helped to establish the Murals Arts Program Inspiring Transformation that created opportunities for local artists to lead paid mural projects with local high school students as paid interns.
Natasha Ria El-Scari
Natasha Ria El-Scari is a writer, Cave Canem fellow, and has been an educator for over a decade. Her poetry, academic papers, and personal essays have been published in anthologies, literary and online journals. She has opened for and introduced many great writers, singers and activists, and has been featured at a host of universities and venues nationwide. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Natasha has a BA from Jackson State University and a MA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Natasha’s Black Feminist approach is reflected in her writing, poetry and performance pieces. Natasha brings the fire! She is a divorced mother of two awesome children. Once asked in an interview what makes her unique she replied, “…most people lie to themselves, but I like to reveal myself.”
When she was in graduate school, Natasha relied on SNAP and WIC benefits to get her through a time of need in the face of a job loss. “The shame I was taught to have was erased as I watched law school students and PhD candidates try to provide for their families. I learned that there were many faces to who receives food stamps,” Natasha says.
Natasha is a founding owner of Rollin’ Grocer, Kansas City’s first mobile grocery store. Though temporarily on a hiatus, the team was authorized to accept SNAP benefits and were partners in the Double Up Food Bucks Program. They were in the process of becoming a WIC vendor before they paused the business.
“I have been on the back and front end of WIC, SNAP and seeing hard working people who simply needed assistance,” Natasha says. As director of a college prep program she served an intersection of immigrant first generation and American born first generation college students from families with low income for over 12 years I also know how the body must first be fed before the mind,” Natasha says.