Original Air Date: November 14, 2011
Rebecca Yenawine is the Executive Director of New Lens, a youth driven social justice organization working to assist youth in making art and media about often-underrepresented perspectives. The work produced by New Lens is used to address systemic problems, facilitate dialogue, shift perspectives and stimulate action. Ms. Yenawine provides oversight for all art and curriculum, insuring that the projects that young people focus on creatively address systemic social justice issues. Her primary goal is to help teens become leaders and active citizens and to put their vision out through art and media. You can find more about New Lens on their website at www.newlens.info.
One of their recent projects is a video called No Homo in which a group of young people in Baltimore City explore fear and prejudice toward homosexuality and address homophobia. Youth filmmakers invite their peers to reflect on their experiences with homophobia and how family, friends, religion and gender norms shape their ideas about sexual orientation. This documentary short blends lively conversation and everyday scenes from the lives of young people to expose how prevalent and harmful homophobic attitudes are and how they impact people of all sexual orientations. Throughout the film, young people wrestle with their own beliefs and attitudes in order to understand themselves and each other.
Ms. Yenawine also works as an adjunct faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art in the Masters of Community Art Program where she teaches social justice curriculum and evaluation. From 1997 to 2009, Rebecca was the founder and director of a non-profit organization called Kids on the Hill. Her background includes training in mediation, teaching writing and art to inner city youth and providing childcare at a battered women’s shelter in New York. Ms. Yenawine has a BA in English from Goucher College and has completed courses in Psychology, Adolescent Development and Intercultural Communication. In 1999, Ms. Yenawine was the recipient of a Community Fellowship Award from the Open Society Institute and in 2003 was accepted into the yearlong LEADERship class sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee. Ms. Yenawine is a trained instructor for the Visual Thinking Strategies, a curriculum that teaches critical thinking through observing art. The Open Society Institute and TKF Foundation have written about her work in publications and she has published her own articles on the Community Arts Network.