Jul 152011

The Union is currently partnering with The Kent Bellows Studio and Center for Visual Arts to sponsor a week-long residency for Chicago-based urban artist, Lavie Raven and his family.

Lavie is one of the founding members of an amazing organization called the University of Hip-Hop. The University of Hip-Hop is a multidisciplinary school of the street arts, which uses hip-hop for youth education and leadership development, and creates service learning projects and community beautification projects to increase cultural awareness and tolerance for communities in Chicago and worldwide. Historically the University has used hip-hop to critically examine the historical socio-cultural backgrounds of its participants, and engage youth in the study of diverse cultural identities and expressions, to bring visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and spiritual artwork to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Lavie is currently the Minister of Education for the organization… he’s also a high school educator and an amazing artist. During his stay in Omaha, Lavie has participated in a panel discussion on urban art in the community (a special thanks to everyone who attended!), facilitated a workshop for Kent Bellows’ students and is painting a mural along the Keystone Trail on the underpass at 70th and Pacific. He will also spend time in North Omaha helping to design murals which will be painted at a later date.

For The Union — this residency with Lavie is the first in a series of artist exchanges that we will be collaborating on with the Chicago-based non profit, The Stockyard Institute. Over the next several months, The Union will host six different artists from Chicago for a week-long residency. The artists will work on varying art initiatives during their stay in Omaha — but each will be working directly with members of our community to accomplish their projects. We are so excited to launch this collaboration with The Stockyard Institute — using the arts to build a bridge between our cities… and it’s an honor to sponsor Lavie Raven as our first visiting artist.

Next time you find yourself around 70th and Pacific, please take a moment to check out the mural Lavie created with the help of local artists, Kent Bellows’ students and alumni — it can easily be accessed by parking in the Kohl’s lot using the entrance on Pacific Street.