On Nov. 8, Let’s C.H.A.T (Culture, Art, Heart, Talk), will bring 16 local artists and art facilitators together so they can use their visual art, music, and spoken word to build a stronger community.
Omar Rashan, one of the organizers of Let’s C.H.A.T is a successful artist in his own right, but he also has a long history of counseling youth.
“I’ve been working with kids and high risk, children, kids who dealt with trauma,” he said. “I've even worked with children with autism. And so in these facilities I have used art in conversations to break down barriers.”
The program, part of this year’s Spirit & Place Festival, will take place at the Reset Center on Friday Night.
Let’s C.H.A.T is sponsored by Community Action of Greater Indianapolis (CAGI). Their “We CANN” program, which is described on their website as “evidence-based approach to decreasing crime and health disparities” focuses on youth and adults at high risk for involvement in a violent crime — using art to help them to become successful members of the community.
Performing artists include vocalist Manon Voice and spoken word artist Januarie York, and hip-hop artist Diop Adisa. Visual artists who will have work on view include longtime arts organizer Tony Radford and Rashan himself.
“With this being the first Let’s C.H.A.T. series, we wanted to make sure we had some heavy hitters,” says organizer Omar Rashan, who himself will have work represented at the event.
Rashan is an artist who is getting increasingly noticed in town, both for his colorful paintings and his graphic design for the 2018 Art & Soul celebration at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.
Taking part in the event will be 10 trauma informed community facilitators, certified through CAGI.
“As artists, we can basically go through this module and become certified. And what that does is allow us to go into the community,” says Rashan. “Instead of calling it art therapy or whatever, we call it becoming facilitators.”
Rashan says he is a living testament, as a former “troubled teen” who is now a successful artist and graphic designer, that art can have a therapeutic effect.
Before Rashan stepped away to work full time as a professional artist and graphic designer, he had worked for 16 years for various organizations as a youth counselor.
“In these facilities I have used art to have these conversations to break down barriers, break down walls,” says Rashan. “It just kind of made sense for me to come on board with this project because I was already kind of doing that work already."
“So, we feel like we got some heavy hitters and, hopefully, just to set the tone for next year,” he says. “We've already got people requesting to want to be a facilitator ... next year. So that's already an overwhelming experience, knowing that this first situation hasn't even started yet.”