Youth Design Group Art Exhibit Explored Immigration, Violence, Mental Health, Sponsored By NYCHA


BROWNSVILLE—The Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) are pleased to announce the opening of Testify, a youth-designed public art exhibit in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Testify explores the trials and triumphs of New Yorkers as they recount experiences spanning challenges with immigration, violence, mental health, and COVID-19. The exhibit’s design and installation was led by artist Sophia Dawson through her year-long Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) partnership with DCLA and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ).

Testify features audio recordings and photographs of eleven interview subjects, objects, and places meaningful to youth artists who live in NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments across the five boroughs. The artists were selected from a cohort of fifty participants in the inaugural 2021 ONS Youth Leadership Council (YLC). Over the course of nine months, young people ages 16-21 joined YLC to explore self-narratives, group identity, and social justice issues by utilizing a range of multimedia tools. The cohort will present Testify, their culminating project, on a sidewalk shed at Brownsville Houses as part of a series of art installations in public housing communities citywide through City Canvas.

City Canvas is a pilot initiative of DCLA to transform temporary protective structures into platforms for community-centered art exhibitions. Through City Canvas, DCLA, NYCHA, NYC Department of Buildings, and ArtBridge to bring temporary visual art exhibits to the city’s public housing communities. The installation is made possible in part by funding through the American Rescue Plan via the City Artist Corps.

WHERE: 307 Blake Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11212, 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Office of Neighborhood Safety
Established in 2019, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) combines the efforts of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety (MAP), the Office to Prevent Gun Violence (OPGV), and Atlas to strengthen community safety, healing and well-being and ensure that residents have access to the robust resources that enable communities to thrive.  The role of the Office of Neighborhood Safety is to build safe, healthy communities by coordinating city agency resources, increasing community capacity through training and funding, and centering community expertise in government decision making. For more information, visit

NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit

Sophia Dawson
Sophia Dawson is a Brooklyn-based visual artist who has dedicated her life’s work to exposing the stories and experiences of individuals who are striving to overcome the injustices they face both individually and collectively. By raising awareness of these individuals, she aims to humanize social justice issues and to prevent such experiences from being repeated in the future. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the School of Visual Arts and a Master’s degree in visual arts administration from New York University. Her work has recently been exhibited in Rush Arts Gallery and the Bronx Museum for the Arts.

Banner Image: Testify Art Exhibit. Image Credit – NYCHA


NYC Department Of Cultural Affairs

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is the largest municipal funder of culture in the country and is committed to providing access to art and culture for all New Yorkers.

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