NEWARK — The Barat Youth Initiative, hosted its sixth annual BYI Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade in Newark on Sunday, Oct. 22. The parade is the largest collaborative youth art event in the state. “Our vision is to establish a parade which is comparable to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade here in New Jersey, only this parade will feature artwork by our youth,” said Chandri Barat, executive director of the Barat Youth Initiative leading the parade (above photo).
With humble beginning of cardboard and glue. BYI began making the giant sculptures known the ‘Animodules’ ™, an original Newark creation, plays a role of Newark’s Good Will Peace Ambassadors. These student and artist created these sculptures and were crafted by over 2,000 youth in 50 Newark schools working directly with professional artists. The Animodules represent community, unity, peace making through the arts and youth empowerment.
Athena Barat, in the midst of her “Creation Nation”, dressed head to toe in this year’s theme “Purple. The name Creation Nation came from the parade chant we’ve been doing for the past 4 years that goes: “We’re coming together for a celebration! To honor the power of creation. All the people are demonstrating. The power of a Creation Nation!” A Creation Nation is simple, its one where everyone has realized and actualized their creative potential and a world where we equally support one another in all our unique creative voices. That’s the world we are trying to build, so that’s what we’re called.
The BYI moved to its new location, in September in the Gateway has a more sophisticated look. With the Animodules featured through the corporate lobby areas.
On parade day when all the Animodules march together, young people see their work as part of a greater whole. It’s a powerful vision of unity, community, and peace. The youth can witness their own creative power and potential. The parade of peace precession marched into Washington Park. Where the guest were entertained by a large array of Newark’s youth. There was conscious poetry, spoken word, tap dancing, and singing. Below are images of the performers.
Athena Barat was asked, What is Creation Nation? AB: Creation Nation is public art by the public; peace making through artistic collaboration. For the past six years we have been gathering Newark in an annual art parade to celebrate our children, artists and the power of community collaboration.
We are peace educators at our base and believe that by engaging youth in large-scale public projects we can build a more peaceful community where our kids are proud of themselves, and the adults view our youth as talented and productive. It’s through art we hope to foster a sense of belonging, acceptance, freedom and understanding.
We Parade to claim the public sphere as a shared space for the voice of the people and to publicly recognize that our creativity, openness to others and ability to collaborate determines the health of our future. The Creation Nation parade is more than an art event, it is a political statement to honor, support, and protect the voice of our people and our children.