Since 2003 I have been working with adolescent males that have been placed out of home at the O'Connell Youth Ranch. At 33 years of age, I have essentially spent my late adolescence and early adulthood operating within a group home setting and, as my wife could tell you, have assimilated some of the oppositional behaviors that are present in the home. Through my years at the Ranch, I have witnessed countless young men 'waste' their time with a 'fake-it-till-you-make-it' attitude that only serves to reify their disillusionment with the justice system and the adult world. Sadly, only a small percentage of youth break that cycle and change their developmental trajectory. It is my job as staff to challenge those perceptions and to reveal to them a new and exciting world different from the one they have created in their minds.
As an artist, I have experienced the power of art as a vehicle for learning, healing and validation and I wanted to make available those experiences to our youth in placement. So, in March of 2012 I began to concoct an art project specifically for our young men to exercise control over their environment as well as create a connection with the Lawrence community. What better way to express these sentiments but through the creation of a mural. Below is a link to the mural website. It is still under construction, and moving at a snail's pace, but Edo wasn't built in a day right?