Last weekend, some creative and passionate Pepperdine students decided to throw a benefit concert to celebrate some great musicians in the LA music scene and raise awareness and funds for MITS! Following are some thoughts, shared by J.J. Barrows, a visual artist who live painted a canvas as the evening unfolded and musicians shared their sets...
Hi there! I'm a JJ who loves to paint, and while there is much to be said about that, let's get to the point of this evening and what I'm doing here (by the way, I'm stoked to be here!) I was invited to come paint live for this event and curious as to what it was all about and who it was benefiting. I did what any good old fashioned person would do... I googled it.
I believe in painting with purpose because I believe I was created to paint, and not just paint but paint with the power f story in mind. And after my google search, so began the story of Made in the Streets intertwining with the stories I paint and thus bringing me here tonight.
I watched a short film about five students of MITS in Nairobi, Kenya. MITS is a school dedicated to not just getting kids off the streets, but offering them a fulfilling life in place of the emptiness and short-lived highs that the world has to offer. MITS is dedicated to nurturing the individual to be their true self, to not be defined by their circumstances, surroundings, or what they've been told about who they should be. Being our true self is something all of us need, no matter what part of the world we live in, whether we know it or not.
I love the power of story and how it can so beautifully be visualized in a movie or short film. Different people will always pick up or be drawn to different messages throughout a story. These are the three things that stuck out to me as I watched this short film by David Hutchinson:
And so the title of the short film came about... How Far I Want to Go.
Tonight as I paint I will be carrying these three things in my thoughts and prayers as I translate the music into colors. These three things will be the driving force behind the painting.
Why do these three things stick out to me?
We are all wired and created so uniquely for a reason, and the more freedom we have to be ourselves, the more we can set others free to be themselves, the more we can set others free to be themselves, encouraging them to not check out of this life but to embrace it in it's fullness. I think what the world struggles with is people who don't know they matter and are valuable.
Each life matters. Each life.
But most people either forget or they don't know and so they either check out or they fend for themselves and before we know it, we've turned against each other.
But the truth is, we are loved. All of us.
We all matter and so we don't have to fight each other to see who matters more or who matters at all. We all matter, each person matters, each story matters. I believe this is true because I believe there is a God who is made of love and so He created us out of love and His intention for us is love and He wants us to give and receive love. Some information got clouded along the way, as with any story told over a long period of time, but the basics are still there, that there is a God, who I often times don't understand. but who I know loves us and sees us, even when (if not especially when) we are in those dark and hurting places.
I believe that this God wants us to go far, and I believe that those who choose to go far in life will. Moses, you will go far. Amina, you will go far. The other three people featured in the film: Francis, Dennis, Eddie, you will go far. David, who made the film, you will go far. And all of the other students, teachers, interns and volunteers at Made in the Streets, you will go far. Those of you performing tonight, cooking tonight, speaking tonight, cleaning tonight, serving tonight, you will go far. Those of you listening and watching tonight, you will go far. So long as you make up your mind that far is where you want to go, you will go far. Moses, this American has heard you and knows this to be true about you: you will go far.
And so, it is with the names of the students from Made in the Streets, along with words that I believe were spoken over them or to them as I prepared for this evening, I began the canvas. I wrote the names and words on a blank canvas and this is what I will be painting over tonight, leaving the deeper message hidden behind the colors of life's mess made beautiful. It is a composition of color and truth, hope and redemption, life and value, all held together with pieces of scripture, a little glue and a lot of love.
This message is just as true for all of us here tonight as it is for these students when they voiced their desire for it... you will go far!
JJ Barrows is an artist, writer and storyteller based in San Diego, CA, with a die hard love for peanut butter, the ocean, and all things colorful. With a passion for telling stories and creating something out of nothing, JJ combines words and color to share stories in a visual way.
She believes in the power of the written and spoken word and can be found sharing her stories and thoughts at www.jenniejoybarrows.wordpress.com or in a little spot called YouTube where her stories come to life and offer words of hope and encouragement in a day and age that isn't always the kindest.
To see more of her work, visit JJ Barrow Art on Facebook/jjbarrows or Instagram/jjbarrowsart, or check out her upcoming art show at www.rawartists.org/jjbarrows.
While JJ prefers to sell her art, donations for gas money and peanut butter are gladly accepted.
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