Skip to main content

Art exhibit examines forces that empower, harm communities

March 05, 2010

The 7-year-old boy in Junjie Verzosa’s painting points a gun, practicing to shoot like his dad who Verzosa says is a corrupt policeman in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, a nearby exhibit shows how youth in Lower Buckeye Jail learned, through a Cultural Arts Coalition program, to appreciate the importance of positively contributing to their neighborhoods.

The powerful images are separated by only a few steps. But for the kids in each of these cases, being led a few steps in the right direction can make all the difference.

The new ASU art exhibit, “Community Cohesions: Barriers, Bridges and Bonds,” offers more than 100 new multimedia works that emphasize the ways positive and negative influences can change communities.

The free exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and runs through April 29 on the first and second floors of University Center, 411 N. Central Ave.

“The standard of this art is really professional, but it’s also very relevant to the people in this community,” says Joseph “Sentrock” Perez, an ASU Public Ally who helped South Mountain YMCA lead a group of juveniles on probation to create a mural for the exhibit.

“Throughout the whole process, we kept mentoring them and telling them they have so much more potential than they might feel society thinks,” Perez says. “I see a difference in them now. They took ownership of this (mural) and feel like they are somebody.”

The installation highlights artworks by Phoenix artists, organizations and students from South Mountain High School and Young Life College. Youth from Phoenix Day School for the Deaf share their perspective on communication through a series of photos and masks. Other contributors include Phoenix Center for the Arts, Westcor, and the Bravery Project.

For Verzosa, there is still hope for youth like the one holding a gun in his painting.

“He could potentially go down the wrong path, but I think he’ll be okay once he realizes that what his Dad is doing is wrong,” Zerzosa says, and points at the blue sky above the boy’s head. “Almost all my paintings have the sky in them. For me, there is still a piece of heaven in every single one of us.”

The art collection is among the highlights of an Urban Gallery Exhibition set for 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 2. The event will highlight community partnerships and feature live music, dancers and interactive art during First Friday.

For information about the exhibit, contact ASU College of Public Programs community liaison Malissa Geer at For details on the April 2 event, visit: