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Young St. Louisans affected by gun violence present their art at The Sheldon

Hip-hop artists perform during a Story Stitchers event called Make Music on the Loop, June 2017.
The Sheldon

An exhibit at the Sheldon Art Gallery will display videos and photos of young St. Louisans working through their experiences with gun violence.

“Pick the City UP” is a presentation of the Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective. The exhibit, which opens Friday, documents work from the past several years.

Susan Colangelo and several other artists founded the nonprofit in 2013 with the idea to tell stories through embroidery. Now, the work encompasses written and spoken word, including hip-hop and poetry.

“It’s a metaphor for healing our city,” Colangelo said. “We’re stitching our city together.”

‘They can hear they’re not alone’

Story Stitchers works with St. Louis youth ages 15 to 24 to document their experiences and promote understanding through music, visual arts and direct community engagement. Their most recent projects focus on gun violence.

Members are artists-in-residence at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, 3224 Locust St., which provides rehearsal and performance space. They also record, edit and publish at the Stitchers’ storefront studio in The Loop.

Emeara Burns was inspired by a teacher to take herself seriously as a poet.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio
Emeara Burns was inspired by a teacher to take herself seriously as a poet.

Participant Emeara Burns, 20, grew up in North St. Louis, where gunshots were always a backdrop.

“It’s constant — like, you hear it every night,” Burns said. “So I’m pretty sure it’s become something people in my neighborhood see as normal now.”

Burns began writing poetry as a teenager. Three years ago, she became part of the Saint Louis Story Stitchers.

“It gives me a way to cope and to grieve … by writing it down, and knowing that somebody, somewhere, is probably going through the same thing,” Burns said. "And they can hear that they’re not alone.”

The exhibition also includes a live performance on March 20.

You can hear more from Burns and Colangelo in an upcoming Cut & Paste podcast.

If you go:

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective:‘Pick the City UP’

March 2-April 21

The Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Blvd.

Suggested $10 donation

‘Pick the City UP Glo Show’ live performance, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 20

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.