The Warehouse Project & Gallery opened in 2013 because one student asked for a place to experience life, build community, discover change, and create art. One student became ten, ten became twenty and the rest is history.
We all have a “Why Here” story… what’s yours?
Meredith’s Story: A few years ago, a student came to me and shared something really important. He said: No one cares about me and there isn’t any place for me here. I get so angry but I don’t know how to tell people. What is wrong with me? Why don’t I fit in? At the time, he was 15. His life was falling apart. He was running the streets. He was smoking. He was drinking. He was selling. He was fighting. The only people he was connected with were doing anything but leading him in the right direction. And for some reason, at that particular moment, he shared a small, genuine piece of his life with me. It was then, that I knew that we had to do something different. We needed to connect with all people. We needed to provide safe outlets for emotion. We needed to build relationships that went beyond the typical, surface level, shallow conversations. We needed to engage the community in confronting neighborhood issues. We needed to empower residents to connect with each other, ask challenging questions, and ultimately make change. But how were we going to do this? We were up against huge odds: Power structures that hadn’t been challenged for years, residents that were disconnected and disengaged, youth that disrespected almost anyone they came into contact with, and multiple community divides that seemed impossible to bridge. So I started thinking…what was the one thing in my world that could bridge any and all conflict? And as the wheels started churning, I discovered that one of the only true methods of community building that I could be part of had to be artistic. We needed to use theatre to address the lack of relationships between neighbors, we need to use music to help young people confront and express emotion, we needed to use visual art to inspire the future. The more conversations that I had, the more I realized that everyone, regardless of what they thought, had some creative, artistic talent. They all had strong arts related influences and everyone used some form of art as an outlet. As I began talking to residents and young people, I discovered that this was something that was missing in the community. Not only could art provide the connection to strengthen an already culturally rich community, it could provide residents with safe, expressive outlets and drive community change. Not long after these discoveries, The Warehouse was born. I tell youth all the time is that in life none of the things we go through are easy, but they are all worth it. This is definitely one of those things. At times, it has been incredibly challenging, but incredibly worth it. As we approach our 5th birthday, I cannot help but reflect on the things that we have done, the places we have traveled, the stories we have heard and how we have begun to transform the community. I am so grateful that so many people have allowed me to come along for the ride.