On October 28, 2018, music therapist, Brad Drozdowski, debuted the final performance of “Ahimsa: A Community Arts Initiative to End Violence” at Shedd Park in Lawndale. ITA partnered with Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts and The Chicago Park District to bring Lawndale youth together for six weeks of work to advocate for peace and non-violence in their community through the creation of several unique pieces of art. Kalapriya, represented by the organization’s board president, Mridu Sekhar, brought art and culture to the group through traditional Indian dance and involvement in Kalapriya’s participation in the Chicago Halloween Parade, during which the group performed the dance while following a large wooden elephant. Wanda Norris of the Chicago Park District provided Shedd Park as a safe and familiar location for the group to meet three times a week, for six weeks to build community, process their experiences with violence, and create art.
Brad, Mridu, and Wanda worked collaboratively with the group to complete the final production of Ahimsa, which included an Indian dance performance, a performance of an original choreography to the song “This is America” by Childish Gambino created by the group members, live poetry featuring an original poem by each group member, an original play in five scenes created by the group, the performance of an original song on the topic of non-violence, and a display of ragdolls created by the group members which represented those whom they have lost in their community due to violence, their own experience with violence, or their ideal vision of a non-violent community member and leader. The ragdoll project was inspired by the work of “The Heart Project: Dolls4Peace,” which by 2017 had brought together Chicago community members to create over 1,000 ragdolls to represent those lost in Chicago due to gun violence.
ITA is proud to have partnered with Kalapriya and the Chicago Park District to bring this non-violence initiative and community support to Lawndale. A full recording of the final performance in Shedd Park is available here! Check it out!