Center for Folk and Community Art (“CFCA”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization co-founded by visionary artists Stewart Stewart and Dena Stewart in 1988. Through its innovative programming, CFCA positively impacts communities on the local, regional and national level by uniting the cultural arts with human services.
CFCA programming is project-driven: For each project, CFCA artists facilitate their original, nationally acclaimed model workshop outreach program Telling Stories Through Visuals (“TSTV”) with groups of people who are impacted by a specific social challenge. TSTV is a process in which people of different ages and backgrounds write about their experiences and feelings relating to a particular issue. They’re then asked to visualize what they wrote and shown how to illustrate their stories. These printed stories and related artwork – each on a separate piece of canvas – are crafted into movable tapestries introduced at public seminars to stimulate dialogue, generate awareness of both the day-to-day physical and emotional realities of certain health and social issues, educate the public about their own vulnerability, attract audiences who can help to facilitate the necessary changes, and help bridge the gap between impacted populations and community at large. CFCA artists also facilitate training workshops at local, regional and national conferences to teach educators and healthcare professionals how to adapt TSTV activities to address challenges in their communities.
The following are some video interviews with Dena and Stewart about their various projects that took place over the years.
ALL ABOUT CRIME – for the syndicated television show HARD COPY
A PICTURE OF THE COUNTY for WLRN -PBS
ART FROM THE HEART – 9/11 Project for Chanel 1 in New York.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO LIVE WITH HIV/AIDS – In Florida, California and Texas
LOVE CAN BUILD ANYTHING – Hurricane Andrew Project – Inspired by a song written by songwriter/musician Lanny Smith, “Love can Build Anything” was a collaborative project among students who experienced the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, and artists Dena Stewart and Stewart Stewart.
Several years later, this Love Can Build Anything hurricane mural project became “Lesson Card No. 79” in the SRA/McGraw-Hill research-based reading & language arts program: Imagine it!, a comprehensive literacy tool used in schools all over the globe. (McGraw-Hill Education has offices in 33 countries and publishes in more than 40 languages.)
CFCA art project themes include, but are not limited to:
Culture Clash – Prejudicial feelings are explored and attitudes change as participants express their views about people who don’t look like them.
Civility … or the Lack of It! In writing and illustrations, teenagers tell how they would like to be treated and come up with solutions to lessen their anger when they don’t receive the respect they expect.
Art from the Heart of Little Haiti Miami Haitian community uses art to reveal impact earthquake in Haiti had on their lives.
Art to Cope Non-artists of all ages experience the creative process and learn to use art to handle stress.
I Can’t Forget … But I Don’t Remember What Alzheimer’s awareness project involves individuals with early-stage dementia, their family, friends and caregivers who write stories and create illustrations to relate their own experiences. They also learn an art process to stimulate communication.
The ART of Manipulation Youth learn to consider how art influences our thoughts, our feelings and consumerism.
I’m an Artist, Too! Developmentally challenged adults use art to describe their lives.
Gang Culture & Violence Teens use art to describe their personal involvement with death, guns and criminal behavior, providing insight into the complexity of their lives, their values and dreams.
Bullying Bully-victim dynamics are explored, utilizing writing and related illustrations to explain behaviors.
Abuse and Violence in a Teen Dating Relationship An empowering project for young women and men who employ the written word and illustration to relate their experiences with and feelings about verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
A Picture of the County A series of tapestry panels that focus on prevalent issues affecting each of the 13 districts in Miami-Dade County, FL. Issues include gentrification and change; and diversity in a mixed socioeconomic, racial and ethnic community.
When I Look Out My Window An environmental awareness project for elementary school children.
Art From The Heart – An American Tapestry People nationwide related how their lives had changed after the 9/11 attacks. This Tapestry debuted at the New York City Public Library on the first anniversary of 9/11, followed by exhibitions at the Capital Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C., and at the Miami-Dade Library and Government Center.
Everyone Should Have A Home People who have lived on the streets relate their experiences and feelings to help others understand their plight and ease their situation.
LIVING With HIV/AIDS People of all backgrounds and ages infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS use art to describe the impact of virus. Prevention program in Miami-Dade County’s public schools.
Building Bridges-Healing Our Community Members of diverse ethnic and racial groups relate their personal experiences with and feelings about people who do not look like them.
Tobacco, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Youths relate their own experiences with first- and second-hand substance usage and learn how their actions are influenced by ad campaigns, television and peer pressure.
All About Crime At-risk youth and juvenile offenders relate their experiences with crime. This mural was first previewed for Attorney General Janet Reno during a National Youth Crime Watch conference. The project was featured on the nationally-syndicated TV show HARD COPY in 1996.
The Pledge: An Earth Anthem Mural Children visually interpret peace, friendship and harmony. This mural was a backdrop for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nationally televised Summit of the Americas address.
Growing Older A collaboration of senior citizens and youngsters ages 10-13, designed to bridge the generation gap. This mural was unveiled during a White House Conference on Aging. A video documentary of this project, co-produced by WLRN-TV (PBS) was used as a training film by the Chicago Department of Health.
Love Can Build Anything – Trauma from Natural Disaster Depicts the emotions of children before, during and after Hurricane Andrew. A backdrop for President Clinton’s nationally televised town meeting in Homestead, FL in 1993, it was signed by the President and First Lady to support this community project which helped youngsters cope with their personal traumas.
CFCA workshops highlight the thought process and creativity of individuals ranging in age from five years to senior citizens. Participants often include those with physical and learning disabilities.
“Train the Trainer” program venues have included: Arts at St. Johns, Arts & Healing seminar; Miami Beach Women’s Conference; Academy of Educational Development, a Ford Foundation-sponsored symposium on HIV/AIDS Stigma, in Washington, DC; Voices for a Violence-Free Community Conference, Hilton Head, SC; First Steps Beaufort County conference, SC; Florida International University’s Learning and Beyond Conference; Lion & Lamb Peace Foundation Conference on Crime, Bluffton University, OH; New World School of the Arts, Miami; U.S. Conferences on AIDS in Miami, San Diego and Dallas; and State of Florida Department of Health’s Disease Intervention Conference, Orlando.
CFCA Highlights and Program Recognition:
● Telling Stories Through Visuals was selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in consultation with NEA, NEH and the Institute for Museum & Library Services as a model program that effectively combines the visual arts with social services. It is featured on the Creative Partnerships for Prevention website created under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
● CFCA’s Telling Stories Through Visual program is featured as a Lesson Card entitled “Rebuilding Lives Through Art” in the SRA/McGraw-Hill Curriculum Connections Open Court reading and language arts program – Imagine it!, a comprehensive literacy tool used in schools in more than 50 countries around the world.
●Telling Stories Through Visuals is one of six programs featured in “ART WORKS! Collaborations That Change Lives,” a publication of the Miami Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community.
● Telling Stories Through Visuals was featured as a model program in “National News Reports” and “AIDS/STD News Reports,” nationally-subscribed newsletters published by CD Publications of Silver Springs, MD.
● CFCA received proclamations from the Mayors of Miami-Dade County, FL, and the cities of Miami Beach, Dallas and San Diego in recognition of their ongoing community outreach.
● CFCA co-founders Dena Stewart and Stewart Stewart received The Key to the City of Miami Beach in appreciation of their ongoing community service.
CFCA projects for 2015 will include "BULLYING" and "Teenage Dating Relationships". For our Bullying Project, participants (mostly high school students) will write a story about their experiences with Bullying from the perspective of the "Bully", the "Victim", and the "Do-Nothing-To-Help Watcher", with the focus on how these experiences felt while happening, as well as afterwards. The participants will then illustrate their stories. A video will capture these activities and a tapestry will be crafted with the stories and artwork to be presented at interactive dialogues.
Our Relationship Project will also include Telling Stories Through Visuals writing and illustrating activities, with the focus on “Match and Mismatch” and how to have a healthy relationship.