Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing has come alive with the culmination of a transformative year-long residency led by Modesto “Flako” Jimenez, NYC’s Public Artist in Residence focused on gun violence prevention programs.
The showcase, supported by NYC Health + Hospitals and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, celebrated the resilience of youth affected by gun violence and marked the profound impact of the Guns Down, Life Up initiative.
Flako’s dynamic projects, born from his deep engagement with those touched by trauma, were unveiled, including an interactive mural, a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a compelling gallery exhibit, and a documentary spotlighting the hospital’s violence interruption programs.
The interactive mural at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, created in collaboration with graffiti artist Fernando “Ski” Romero, stands as a testament to community strength.
Featuring realistic scenes of the South Bronx and voices from the Guns Down, Life Up program, the mural incorporates QR codes connecting viewers to personal videos, poems, and artwork.
The modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, developed over six weeks with program participants, brought Shakespeare’s timeless tale to the Bronx streets. Street slang and modern English infused the performance, addressing justice and community representation.
The gallery exhibit at Materials for the Arts showcased the visual interpretations of this adaptation, offering a glimpse into the creative process through various mediums.
Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing became a stage for the final showcase, featuring scenes from the Bronx adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, powerful poetry readings, a documentary capturing the collaboration, and an interactive art-making activity centered around the mural.
The event not only highlighted artistic achievements but also emphasized the role of art in healing and community building.
Laurie Tisch, founder and president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, praised Flako’s masterful contribution to the Arts in Medicine program at NYC Health + Hospitals, stating, “Guns Down, Life Up is a groundbreaking program utilizing the arts to help address the trauma of gun violence experienced by youth.”
Flako, reflecting on his residency, stated, “I wanted them to archive who they are in a different way and put positive stuff about themselves in the world. I hope I opened up a door for one of them.”
The successful collaboration between Flako and NYC Health + Hospitals showcases the powerful impact of integrating art into public health initiatives. As the showcase concluded, the resonance of the projects echoed, marking a harmonious convergence of art, healing, and community empowerment.