The Canvas of Empowerment Through Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Community with See Clear

In honor of the 2024 Black History Month theme celebrating African Americans in the Arts, ASCI had the privilege of engaging in a conversation with Curtis and Tracey Reaves, the dynamic co-facilitators behind See Clear. Together, we explored the profound influence of weaving together the arts and entrepreneurship, unraveling the transformative threads that contribute to building a world that is both inclusive and empowered.

In the heart of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, a dynamic initiative is unfurling, seamlessly intertwining the arts, entrepreneurship, and community engagement. See Clear, a 501c3 community and economic development corporation, orchestrated by the artistic competency and the entrepreneurial spirit of Curtis and Tracey Reaves, is rewriting the narrative for youth facing challenges.

Curtis, a fervent photographer and visual artist, lends his expertise to a cause close to his heart. He delves into the lives of youth, particularly those in the African American community, grappling with the aftermath of violence, broken families, and economic hardships. For Curtis, the arts become more than a medium of expression; they emerge as a catalyst for healing and self-discovery. Through photography and visual arts, he witnesses the transformative power of creativity, providing an avenue for children to articulate emotions that words often fail to convey.

“What I’ve found is that, especially in the African American community, there is a major disconnect. Our children are hurt because of violence, social economics, and broken families. Going in and doing different residencies, I have seen children blossom and open up” Curtis told ASCI. “Sometimes, people in trauma can’t express themselves in words. A lot of times if you give them something visual to do, they can show exactly how they feel.”

Meanwhile, Tracey, a stalwart advocate for entrepreneurship, seamlessly integrates business acumen into the realm of arts education. In her hands, the brushstrokes of creativity merge with the strokes of business savvy. Likeminded individuals not only learn to craft beautiful paintings or capture poignant photographs but also to comprehend the entrepreneurial side of their creative endeavors. This infusion of entrepreneurial principles equips individuals with life skills – critical thinking, problem-solving, and financial literacy – essential for navigating the challenges beyond the canvas.

Tracey shared with ASCI, “Everything that we do, we try to infuse other facets. When we do arts, we try to infuse the entrepreneurial component with it so that we’re showing people there’s opportunity to build wealth and our ideas are valid. People like what they see. It feels good if you’ve created a piece of art and see that someone finds value in it. I feel like that builds a sense of self-worth with our kids as well.”

See Clear’s approach extends beyond the confines of a traditional program. It is a holistic journey deeply rooted in community collaboration. Curtis and Tracey actively engage with local communities, forming partnerships, and inviting families into the decision-making process. They recognize and celebrate the rich tapestry of cultural diversity, ensuring that each program reflects the unique backgrounds of the youth they serve.

The community canvas, painted with strokes of inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, extends into public art projects, organic creations from garden materials, and collaborative efforts with fellow nonprofits. It is a masterpiece in progress, a living testament to the transformative potential of art and entrepreneurship.

“We have our own culture as African Americans and, in understanding our culture, we must see our culture with value. We must understand our contribution, so it’s not easily taken. We have a contribution to this overall world that we live in, letting these kids know that they’re not just here because their mom and dad made them. They’re here for a bigger purpose and we must equip them to understand what that purpose is” Curtis told ASCI.

Looking ahead, See Clear envisions a future where families are not only mended but strengthened, where each member finds empowerment. Curtis and Tracey are on the brink of expanding their impact with a new facility in McKeesport – a space destined to be a nexus of creativity and commerce. It will host youth entrepreneurial services, a coffee haven, and events that fuse arts, technology, and community engagement.

See Clear’s journey is a harmonious symphony of creativity and entrepreneurship, a melody that uplifts not just individuals but entire communities. The Reaves, through their unwavering dedication, are crafting more than a brighter future – they are sculpting a resilient, thriving society. As they continue to evolve, See Clear stands as a beacon, illuminating the transformative potential of intertwining the arts with entrepreneurship to create a more inclusive and empowered world.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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