Toledo is rich with naturally gifted men and women who utilize their talents to heal and empower those within the community who have suffered ailments, abuse and hardships. The One Story Project is a program designed to mentor youth and young adults who have endured abuse in their impressionable years. Sometimes the greatest impression abuse leaves on someone is the grappling silence that overcomes the heart and soul whose tears cannot be heard by the common ear. But there is a voice within that cries out and is heard by those who have endured similar circumstances, whose life’s work may be to render messages of hope and encouragement to the mute.
Nicole Tarver, MFA and Founder of The One Story Project began her work in New York, where she studied and worked within the community, seeing the suffering of young people who had no voice or no avenue to express their pain. Through audio and visual arts, Ms. Tarver has established a mentoring program that encourages self expression and likewise serves as a healing balm to broken hearts and tattered souls.
Continuing her work in Toledo, Ms. Tarver ran a summer program with area youth who, in conjunction with the Lucas County Arts Community, created a platform for young people to act out situations and react through artistic expression. The program ended with a fund raiser, Belleza Natural:A celebration of Natural Women at The Truth Art Gallery in Downtown Toledo.
A full house of local supporters donated time, money and talents to render an evening of powerful, moving performances through Spoken Word, Vocal Music, Motivational Speakers, Poetry, and Instrumental Selections.
This night was also dedicated to local women who have rendered their gifts and talents for the greater good within the community. Honorees included community activists, social workers, business owners, audio and visual artists and poets. Among the women honored were Petronella Holmes, Yasu, Audrey Johnson, Latisha Williams, Grace Powers, Natural, Melissa Jeter, Alsion Kodeih, and Danielle Chynablaq Stinson. Each woman in attendance had the opportunity to share words of expression and their gifts in a house full of area residents and program supporters.
The venue was an African Art Gallery, filled with beautifully caved wood sculptures, masks, and statues. Hues of mahogany, cherry, maple and painted wood surfaces surrounded the room, creating an immediate connection to the World Abroad where natural beauty is ever present. A captivated audience shared the space with the spirit of celebration and reflection. Many moving moments brought each attendee to a place of reality and conscious thinking and at other times, the audience was moved to laughter and ear to ear smiles as Nicole Tarver hosted and gave humorous commentary on how she came to know the honorees and performers.
Performances by Huntor Prey, Nathan Ziegler, Levarine Graham & Daughter, Yasu, Darius Hall, Connie Pearson, Natural and Tosha Easter captured the audience with deep rooted convictions through heartfelt lyrics and prose. Each artist had their own way of sharing the message to “Be Themselves” no matter what the social pictures deem acceptable and good. Songs and poems of the similar “Be Myself” titles were delivered in different packages through different routes, having a sole purpose and message.
The Glass City has proven time and again how beautiful it is to see the Glass Half Full, and break the Glass Ceiling which limits the ways and means whereby people express themselves. Each resident who resides has an opportunity to shine a light on dark issues and illuminate the many ways to resolve the pain and heartache life circumstances may have caused.
Proceeds and donations from the event were rendered in support of The One Story Project’s Mentoring program and future endeavors. For more information about The One Story Project, Like the Facebook page and connect to the Founder and Community of local artists who share their talent and time for a unified purpose.