NaQuera Roach talks about the new Youth Center Word Power Mural
From the Word Power press release:
The Word Power mural project was born at the Hudson Youth Center.
Bindlstiff’s Cirkus After School has been offering free, high-quality out-of-school programming at the Hudson Youth Center since 2009.
At each Cirkus After School meeting, staff and youth “check-in” in a Circle format- one person speaks at a time, everyone gets respect and attention, and what youth have to say matters. During a Circle in January of 2020, youth were asked for words that they would use to describe themselves.
Multiple girls used the same few words such as “pretty”, “sassy” or “nice”. The idea arose for a special session for just these “tween” girls.
The goal was to identify more positive words. A weekly “Word Power” group met after Cirkus class, to talk about words, aspirations, goals, and self-representation.
Program Director Stephanie Monseu, a white, middle-aged female, said “I’ve had a long, slow awakening to the ways that bias courses through my own thought processes, and by association, the style and methodology of the program I created and taught.” As this awareness grew, the project began to change shape.
Word Power turned from an idea about self-expression into a project about representation. The idea to create a mural that could be mounted on the exterior of the building was born. Youth Department Director Nick Zachos supported the idea, and Programming Director Vanessa Baehr made sure we had uninterrupted time, quiet space, and staff support to get together weekly. Friends of Hudson Youth contributed financial support for materials and an artist stipend, and Hudson Hall provided workspace when the Youth Center could not, due to COVID safety precautions.
Cirkus After School Coach NaQuera Roach, a well-known Hudson community member and a talented artist, expressed interest in helping the girls develop this idea about Word Power into a piece of public art.
The mural, mounted next to the front door of the Hudson Youth Center on Cherry Alley at South 3rd Street, is dedicated not just to these young artists, but to all girls who play, connect, and grow at the Hudson Youth Center.
Bindlestiff’s Cirkus After School is supported by:
The Hudson River Bank & Trust Community Foundation, The Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation, The Golub Foundation,
Stewart’s Shops / Dake Family Foundation, Friends of Hudson Youth, The Berkshire Taconic Foundation, the City of Hudson Department of Youth, and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Council on the Arts