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The quiet reception for the boys in the “All Our Sons” program, held on Oct. 2 at Open Studio Project, may have belied the strength beneath it. Just a few hours before the kickoff reception for Art & Humanities Month at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, the “All Our Sons” event evoked both arts and humanities: art, because the exhibit featured masks and other creative efforts by the youth in the program, and humanities, because the concept of “All Our Sons” is to honor all the boys of Evanston.
A self-described “53-year-old boy,” David Edelstein, who conceived of the project and funded it, said, “’All Our Sons’ is meant to help raise awareness in the communities of the unique needs of boys.” The reception, he added, was to “show appreciation for the groups that work together and come together on behalf of boys.” In addition to Open Studio Project, those groups include the Evanston Public Library, PEER Services and Youth Organizations Umbrella, with its outposts at Chute and Nichols middle schools. The program, whose funds are administered through the Evanston Community Foundation, provides homework support and other support services, as well as opportunities to be creative.
Sarah Laing, director of programs at Open Studio Project, said one of their challenges was “trying to think of artwork they can do with their bodies, because they’d been sitting all day. We came up with [doing] collages using things that boys are interested in.” In addition, she said, the participants were encouraged to write about their experiences in creating the artwork.
Chauncey Martinez, Brandon Salter, Monax Joseph and Malik Somerville each told the RoundTable they enjoyed the program, particularly the art at Open Studio. Some said their grades had improved because of the program and all said they plan to go to college.
“‘All Our Sons” gives an alternative to the streets,” said Chauncey. Malik said, “We felt that people weren’t judging us.” Chauncey added, “Open Studio and Y.O.U. let me know I have a place to be.”