Graffiti Writers and Street Artists Donate Art to Help Keep “Young New Yorkers” Out of Jail

April 1, 2015 | Bucky Turco

On Wednesday night, a New York City-based group that uses the arts to rehabilitate teenagers and keep them from becoming a cog in the criminal justice system is holding a silent auction at Chelsea’s Joseph Gross Gallery to raise money for its program. The artwork was donated by venerable list of graffiti and street artists such as CHINO, COST, FAUST, NET, TRAP, Olek, Dan Witz, Shepard Fairey, Swoon and so many more—a total of 123 artists donated pieces.

Young New Yorkers is a restorative justice arts program for 16 and 17-year-olds who have open criminal cases. The criminal court gives eligible defendants the option to participate in Young New Yorkers rather than do jail time with community service and have a lifelong criminal record. The program is uniquely tailored to develop the emotional and behavioral skills of the young participants while facilitating responsible and creative self-expression. Central to the curriculum is the concept of taking responsibility for past actions as a necessary step before becoming valued members and even leaders of one’s community.

So many artists were eager to participate in the auction that the organization actually had to turn away artists. Founder Director Rachel Barnard said that street artists and graffiti writers, in particular, were excited about the initiative because “it resonates with them…they either had the experience themselves or just believe in helping young people.” The curatorial team includes the likes of Lunar New Year, Gilf and CHINO. “Last fall I helped expunge arrests for relatively harmless infractions from the records of really good kids,” said CHINO, who also donates his time to the organization.

View the art being auctioned in the gallery above and bid for it online here from 6-10PM.

(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)