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Exhibit brings high school students from Lansing, Flint together to depict life without safe water

A project facilitated by Chicago-based artist Jan Tichy brought high school English students in Flint together with high school art students in Lansing to depict life in Flint without safe water.

The project culminates in an installation at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and a book filled with student work called Beyond Streaming. The installation invites visitors to open the nozzles of floor-to-ceiling copper pipes. Sounds and original poems recorded by the students will then stream out of the pipes.

Listen here to one of those poems, written by Zach Sheely from Carman-Ainsworth High in Flint:

Jessyca Mathews, an English teacher at Carman-Ainsworth High, said a goal of the project was to help kids realize they have the ability to be activists.

“Young people can do this,” she said, “if you give them the opportunity.”

Another goal was to bring kids from different cities together and give them a chance to realize how much they had in common, and how much they could learn from each other.

“When the kids started to hear different stories – because some of the kids at my school are suffer from [the water crisis], some of them have family members that are going through it – everyone got to hear all these different perspectives and hear the effects that are on people who are stuck in the middle of this crisis, this manmade crisis,” Mathews said. “And a lot of the kids from Lansing-Everett were just dumbfounded and had as many questions as the kids here in Flint. And it just charged everyone to go, ‘OK, let’s see what we can do to make awareness for everyone – that this is still going on – and to think about, how do we make change?”

For Stateside’s full interview with Jan Tichy and Jessyca Mathews, listen above.

The installation, named Beyond Streaming: A Sound Mural for Flint, will be open at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum until April 23. You can find more information here.

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