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Artist exhibit: Malcolm Cross and AJ Patterson perform “Shine”


Rehearsal for The Possibility Project's "Stop Requested". Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Listen to a special performance of “Shine” just for The Lamp Project:

Adreanna Patterson’s song, “Shine,” was created under no ordinary circumstances.  The song was composed for an original musical written and performed by a cast of foster care youth.  The teens write their own stories, yet they perform each others’ instead of just sticking to their own. These shows are put on by The Possibility Project, a national non-profit dedicated to empowering youth to improve their lives and communities though preforming arts and community action.

Adreanna, who goes by AJ, first heard about The Possibility Project from her friend Jazzy, a graduate of the program. She was initially skeptical. “At first I didn’t want to do it,” she says, “because you have to do all these weird things, like act like a chicken and dance, and I was so shy back then.” Finally Adrienne joined the program, where she met the musical’s director, professional composer and musician Malcolm Cross, and her talent as a musician began to blossom.

AJ and Malcolm wrote “Shine” for her character, Sunny, a young woman who finally breaks free of an abusive relationship. Although Adreanna has never been in an abusive relationship herself, her character’s emotions are not unfamiliar to her. “I can relate to learning how to get the courage to leave a situation,” she says. “For me, being in foster care, I have been in homes that were just horrible, and I had to learn to get the courage to say, this isn’t right, I have to move out.”  The connection AJ feels to her song is apparent in the natural beauty and power her voice commands over the melody and lyrics.

Next year, Adreanna will graduate from high school with plans to attend college. She has her heart set on the Berklee School of Music for her final two years of college.  Nine out of ten foster care youth who enroll in The Possibility Project go on to graduate high school and later enroll in college. This statistic, however, is not representative of their peer group: on average, only fifty percent of youths raised in foster care nationally graduate high school. Only six percent go on to graduate from a two-year college or higher.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project's "Stop Requested". Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Composer Malcolm Cross and cast members in rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Malcolm says he was delighted to be able to work with Adreanna. He praises her naturally beautiful voice and raw talent, which he helped mold over time into the sophisticated and powerful voice you hear in the “Shine” recording. “I’d never had anyone there to support me,” AJ says of Malcolm. “I’d never had voice lessons or taken any classes.”

Thanks to the generosity of a great artist and a wonderful organization—and of course, the perseverance and courage of a strong young lady—that’s all changed.

* * * * * * * * * *


Jeremy Simoneaux | production mixer
Frank Galvan | production sound supervisor
Jeremy Scott Olsen | voice over
Jeremy Scott Olsen | sound editor / re-recording mixer

Paula Minardi | associate producer
Kimrey Nicholson | producer

Erick Iniguez | co-coordinating producer
Ryan Metcalf | co-coordinating producer
Casey Fowler | supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen | executive producer

thanks to…
Rosanne Ziering | for use of her music room
Toru Fujisaki | Malcolm’s hair (Taka Salon)

Written and performed by
Adreanna Patterson (vocals) and Malcolm Cross (piano)
Copyright 2012 by The Possibility Project

“Lamp Project Theme 2011″
Written and produced by
Nathan Schafer
copyright 2011 by Nathan Schafer

With great appreciation for our all-volunteer crew for their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

Copyright 2013 by The Lamp Project
All rights reserved

Come Be A Part Of It 4 (video podcast)


We are extremely proud to share the final installment in our series of four promotional videos. We made these to highlight a few important causes—homelessness, in this one—and to tell the world what The Lamp Project is all about. An incredible all-volunteer effort made them possible. And we all hope you’ll like them, be inspired, and share. Thanks for watching.

Chloe Flower performs “Revolution” (video podcast)

Watch pianist Chloe Flower perform her single, “Revolution.” With the help of legendary producer Babyface, Chloe has made a happy marriage of classical music and hip-hop. After you listen, learn more in our interview with Chloe, where she talks about her long-time support of the Somaly Mam Foundation and their struggle to end sexual slavery and human trafficking.

Come Be A Part Of It 3 (video podcast)

You’re looking at the third in our series of four videos introducing our organization. We made these to highlight a few important causes—this time, homelessness—and to tell the world what The Lamp Project is all about. An incredible all-volunteer effort made them possible. We hope you’ll feel inspired to action, and we hope you’ll share with your friends.

Giving Form to Invisible Connections: visual artist Lisa Carroll


Investigating the intricate relationship between human beings and their surroundings has been a lifelong passion for artist and designer Lisa Carroll. Carroll brings this passion to bear on her artistic practice, incorporating a variety of media to create abstract pieces that evoke the organic world, probing the boundaries between the manmade and the natural, the individual and the world at large. Her work discloses just how imperfect and provisional such categories are: our sense of opposition or belonging to a broader context can shift dramatically when we are placed in situations—or before works of art—that preclude or, conversely, encourage our contemplation and participation.

"Western Sector" by Lisa Carroll. Mixed media installation.

“Western Sector” by Lisa Carroll. Mixed media installation.

Carroll grew up on the coast of Massachusetts, in a place that she describes as “full of cranberry bogs, marshes, pine forests.”

“For my brother, sister and I these were our playgrounds,” Carroll said. “We would run and explore for miles and lose all sense of time until someone would hear someone’s mother calling to come in for dinner.”

Eventually, Carroll relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has been living for 22 years. An avid runner and camper, she spends much of her time in the remote places of California.

“My understanding of the West is that of both place and spirit,” she explained. “It is my ideal vacation to get myself to a remote lake in the mountains, hike to a hot spring, set myself down on a mesa in the desert, tuck away into a pocket in a canyon and feel myself in the middle of everywhere out there in the middle of nowhere. There is a perfect spot at 8,000 feet in the White Mountains (Eastern CA) where you can look across Owen’s Valley toward the Eastern slope of the Sierras; it is a pleasure to sit there for hours watching the light change and shape that endless space. That is the West in an external sense. There is also the West in an internal sense, the mode of quest, engaging one’s curiosity.”

It is the landscape of California that has had the most decisive influence on Carroll’s artistic sensibility, suggesting materials and motifs for her gorgeous paintings, sculptures, and installations. One of the recurring forms in Carroll’s work is lichen, which she became interested in over time, through her repeated encounters with it in her athletic practice.

“For years I had been running the trails in Redwood Regional Park finding my eye drawn to the lichen encrusting the Bay Laurels,” Carroll said, “And then it just built to a point where the only possible next thing to do was to make that connection and create artwork that expressed my sensorial ritual experience of taking in that lichen for all those years.”

This motif was featured prominently in Western Sector, an installation Carroll created as part of a group exhibition at Inhabit Gallery in Oakland. Walking into the room, viewers found themselves surrounded by clusters of large, delicate lichen-like shapes framing the room’s functional elements and spilling onto the floor, their organic exuberance not so much at odds with the simple geometry of right angles as complementing it, transforming the gallery space so that it might be experienced with the body as well as with the eye. Inviting the viewer to explore and inhabit a temporary space, the work functioned as a reminder of the continuity between nature and human activity, and the simultaneous ephemerality and repetitiveness of their processes.

“It is an acknowledgement that our impact on our environment is a pattern,” Carroll explained. “The action of making each individual part is a repetitive act, a meditation, an act of devotion, embracing the merging of the divine with the mundane. The action of installing and de-installing continues the process. We are nature.”

Carroll has also carried her sense of belonging to a broader context beyond her creative engagement with the mountains, forests, and coastlines of the West. Among other things, she has channeled her love of running into an effort to aid some of the most vulnerable members of the global community. In 2010, Carroll joined her longtime running partner Deidre (Dee) Williams on a 40-mile run to benefit Run For Congo Women.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been a humanitarian crisis for years, and women have paid the heaviest toll for the unending war. Many have lost homes, friends, and family members—including children, many of whom perish before the age of five from inadequate nutrition and medical care. Moreover, the bodies of women have long been treated as part of the battlefield. Horror stories of torture and gang rape abound, and survivors have to live with the physical and psychological trauma, as well as the stigma that rape inevitably carries, usually subsisting below the poverty line and without access to resources that might help them start over.

Run for Congo Women is a grassroots effort to raise awareness and funds for women affected by the continuing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through running and walking events. According to Carroll, her running partner had been inspired by Lisa Shannon, the organization’s founder. When Williams first discussed the idea with her, Carroll recalled in a phone interview, “It brought tears to my eyes… I had no idea that there was something like this out there and that I could be involved.”

They called their run the 40-40-40 Project, dedicating each mile to a specific Congolese woman. Carroll worked out the logistics and designed their route. On the day of the run, they took part in a drumming ritual, establishing a connection with the women to whom the run was dedicated. The grueling nature of a forty-mile run deepened this connection.

“[When you run for long distances], you tap into interesting places in your mind,” said Carroll. “By mile eighteen I was in pain, but the thought of stopping was not possible because these women were on our minds… We have a refrain: ‘Pain is just a sensation.’”

To date, Run for Congo Women has raised over $1 million for Women for Women International, an organization which enrolls women in war-torn regions of the world in yearlong programs that offer counseling, education, and job training. The goal of the program is to provide women with skills and confidence they can put to use in starting businesses and building better lives for themselves and their children.

So far, over 58,000 women have benefitted from the organization’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Almost all of the participants in the region have first-hand knowledge of the miseries and deprivations of war, whether through seeing their homes destroyed, surviving rape or the loss of loved ones, or being unable to receive necessary healthcare. Graduates of the program report an increase in confidence, and most are able to find jobs or even start businesses of their own, contributing to the growth of their economy and the healing of their nation. The Women for Women International website reports that “[o]n average, graduates nearly double their income over the course of the yearlong program.” Additionally, 98% of the women who finish the program report knowing their rights, compared to 5% of those who are just entering the program. These are encouraging statistics. Amidst the wreckage of war, the strong, courageous women who can support themselves, their children, and one another may be the surest sign of hope for the future.

“Mollie Stone: Solidarity Through Song”


Mollie Stone directing CCC

The power of music goes beyond what you hear — it has the ability to comfort, to educate, to empower and to connect individuals even if they are on the other side of the world. Music has the power to bring revolutionary change in a peaceful manner during challenging times. Mollie Stone, a conductor of the Chicago Children’s Choir, has been able to experience the unifying power of music throughout her career in South Africa and the U.S.

Through her extensive work with South African choirs and her project “Vela Vela,” Stone raises awareness about the significance of music for South Africans and its role in political and social issues like the anti-apartheid movement and the current struggle against HIV. She also emphasizes the importance of maintaining authenticity when learning and teaching music from different cultures.

With her mother constantly playing South African music in their home in Chicago, Stone was already familiar with world music as a child. Quite naturally, she became drawn to South African choral music when she learned national songs linked to the anti-apartheid movement as a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir during her teenage years. When the South African apartheid was in the process of ending, learning those songs felt very relevant to Stone. “It was happening half a world away, but it was really interesting since it paralleled our own Civil Rights Movement,” Stone said on the phone.

She gained a newfound love for South African music when the Choir went on tour in the country in 1996. She loved the music for its beautiful sound and the way it united South Africans in helping them form a new national identity after apartheid.

However the complex rhythms, the rich vocal tones, and correct pronunciation in those South African songs were all lost with the simplified versions that Stone learned in the choir when they returned to the U.S. “South African music unfortunately is one of the most butchered by transcriptions,” Stone explained. “When you try to notate South African music, it really just destroys it…It ends up sounding nothing like South African music.”

In recalling her frustration, Stone also explained that the simplification of South African music risks feeding the harmful stereotypes that music from different cultures are inferior to Western classical music, which would be a poor influence on younger generations. “If we teach music from other cultures well, [young people] will grow up to care about the rest of the world and not just think that America is the center of the universe…If we dumb it down, we’re teaching our kids something that’s really wrong and really racist in the long run.”

To address this problem, Stone created “Vela Vela” during graduate school to allow teachers and students in other countries to learn South African music directly from South Africans. With this project, Stone and her friend returned to South Africa to record natives teaching their songs through oral tradition — the way they’re supposed to be taught. Despite the numerous logistic and technical challenges in producing “Vela Vela,” it was all worth it when the teaching DVD was met with success. “It [allowed] Americans to hear what South Africans actually sound like when they sing their music,” Stone said.

“Vela Vela” also highlights the crucial role of music in South Africa’s persisting issues of government corruption, poverty, and HIV, the spread of which has been a dire problem in the country’s society.

“There are many reasons in which one in three people are infected,” Stone said solemnly. Open discussion about HIV is discouraged because of the danger of becoming a target for violence. Many women who don’t have control in their relationships or their sexual safety contract the virus when their partners don’t want to use condoms, which contributes to the large population of children and orphans infected with AIDS. “Only in the past few years have things changed so that people now have access to anti-retrovirals that enable them to live with the virus,” she added.

South Africans continue to fight for change with the limitless power of music. “In South Africa, people always adapt their choral music to use in different struggles, and so singing songs that helped them be successful in the past gives a sense of hope and determination that they’ll survive this current struggle. […] When they sing, they feel they’re a part of a community but they’re individuals,” Stone said.

“To see that as a conductor is really inspiring because in America, we don’t often sing music that is really connected to anything that we’re dealing with, especially politically and socially,” she continued. “To have music be such a part of everyday life sort of comes naturally in South Africa in a way that it doesn’t here or in anywhere else that I’ve ever seen.”

Today, Stone continues to share her passion for South African music by teaching workshops across the U.S. wherein she expands her students’ musical knowledge and lets them see how music from different cultures can connect with the issues in their own lives. “They feel like they’re in solidarity with people in their own communities and in other countries when they sing the South African songs about HIV…If we sing songs about the anti-apartheid struggle, we’ll talk about inequality.”

She also recounts the many times the faces of her advanced students light up with joy when they realize that singing South African choral music helps them better understand compositions from Brahms or Bach. “Everything is so connected, and to break down that wall is so exciting.” Stone believes fervently devoting herself to teaching her workshops as authentically as possible gives her students the chance to become more global citizens by learning music from different cultures without feeling self-conscious.

The enthusiastic reactions of her students motivate Stone to continue growing as a passionate teacher, conductor, and individual. “It’s amazing to have that constant balancing of being open to the world around me and then bringing it back to my students, and then learning from them how to share the things that turn on all the lights in my head, my soul, and my voice.”

TeAda Presents “Delicious Reality: The Immigration Experience”

By Mackenzie Farrell

Delicious Reality

Leilani Chan’s voice fills with enthusiasm as she describes the inspiration behind TeAda Productions upcoming show Delicious Reality: “The stories coming out of these (immigrant) groups are so exciting and raise such important issues.” TeAda partnered with two different groups, ROC-LA (Restaurant Opportunities Center-Los Angeles) and SEACA (Southeast Asian Community Alliance), to create workshops for immigrants. These workshops became a place to share stories and engage in important discussions, including dialogue about work conditions. Delicious Reality portrays these immigrants’ stories in a common immigrant job setting—the kitchen of a restaurant. Delicious Reality’s tagline has become, “who really cooks your food?,” encouraging California locals to attend the play at Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica to learn more about a kitchen culture that is lively and rich with history. The play runs May 10th-19th, and more information can be found at

New York Times Article Embraces Social Service Art


You may remember paintings that changed the way you saw the world. You may have heard of novels that changed the course of history.  Yet art in the name of social reform receives little attention in the contemporary art world.  Or at least it has until recently.

On March 20th, 2013, the New York Times arts section published an article about an emerging art wave, new to the U.S.A.— social-practice art. Artists of this medium use their creativity in a variety of ways to improve the social welfare of those around them. Art projects of this nature are difficult to critique, almost never end up in a gallery, cannot be collected, and are most frustratingly impossible to define.  In a perplexing 1000 word article, New York Times arts writer Randy Kennedy describes a number of such projects and programs, begging the reader to ask, how is this art?

Kennedy describes an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. The piece is a reconstructed farmhouse, the childhood home of a Detroit artist who committed suicide last year. The purpose of the installation is to serve as a memorial and social service site.  Kennedy also cites a San Francisco based program that converts empty lots and rooftops into flourishing organic gardens as an example.

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit’s Mobile Homestead to serve as a traveling social service site. Photo by Corine Vermeulen, originally posted on the MOCA website.

“If none of these projects sound much like art — or the art you are used to seeing in museums — that is precisely the point.” Kennedy writes.

The point, rather, is to create art that is collaborative, expands across generations and changes according to the needs of the community.

Artsist exhibit at Project Row, A low income housing and artist residency project in Houston, Texas. Photo Courtesy

Kennedy speculates that the increasing attention these projects receive from arts writers and galleries may have developed as a response to the increasing market of the contemporary art world.  A market that encouraged an inundation of artwork that, and not for want of appropriate ascetic, fails to connect with everyday reality and in turn isolates many viewers. To explain this conundrum more clearly, Kennedy quotes New York artist Tania Brugiera’s definition of social practice art, “It’s time to restore Marcel Duchamp’s urinal to the bathroom.”

While social practice artists would indeed rather install urinals where they are needed rather than in gallery exhibits, there is still much room for social practice artists and contemporary art institutions to collaborate.

Kennedy quotes Ms. Wooland, a woman who was recently asked to run a social practice arts program at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Los Angeles, on this matter. “I do think,” she states, “that there will be ways for new kinds of collectors to emerge who will support these kinds of long-term projects as works of art.”

The program Ms. Wooland will run provides artists- from the culinary arts to sculpture- the opportunity to live and work at the MoMA. Patrons of the MoMA will have the opportunity to interact with these resident artists, allowing a more intimate understanding of their work.

Collaboration between social practice art and the contemporary art world would help restore art to the position it has occupied historically, as a pioneer of social revolution. It seems no longer enough for art pieces to allude to abstract social issues. Instead, these projects have a concrete effect on society and encourage all to participate in their development. Social practice art dismisses anything proprietary, dissolving individual identities such as activist or artist. Instead we see only a collective of individuals and communities, looking to create a change together through creativity and innovation.