Cescah Grazioli: Intergenerational Dialogue & Complicated Perspectives

Cescah Grazioli is a local high school student with a drive to make an impact on our community. She was the driving force behind our “Through Our Eyes: Teens Respond to A 11 & 12” exhibit and is a summer 2019 intern at The Bridge.

The idea for the Through Our Eyes art competition was planted last August, when, to kick off junior year, my American Studies class had a unit on racial and social politics in Charlottesville.  We talked about Vinegar Hill and the Lee Statue and the August 11th and 12th white supremacy rallies. During these charged discussions, I discovered that my peers had an incredible amount of insight into and knowledge of the current situation in Charlottesville.  Soon after, I decided that everyone needed to hear what they–and all the teenagers in the area–had to say. And what better way than through an art exhibit and competition? My AmStuds teacher Mr. Jordan Taylor, who volunteers as a board member for The Bridge, put me in contact with the director, Alan Goffinski.  Together, we wrote and distributed the call for submissions, asking for any and all art/writing that focused on the impact and effects of August 11th and 12th, whether it be emotional, physical, or other.

Throughout the next few months, the submissions rolled in.  Over 30 students from schools all over the city and county participated in the event, submitting photography, paintings, drawings, sculpture, poetry, film, and more.

With lots of help from Alan and Mr. Taylor, I set up the gallery space, nailing up the paintings and organizing the bigger 3D pieces.  The next day, on opening night, we had a full house as I hosted the poetry reading and the awards ceremony. It was amazing to see the younger and the older generations connecting through the artistic medium; a new, mutual understanding seemed to have been established.   Teenagers are far more engaged in current events than they are given credit for, and their feelings and ideas shined brightly through their art. My goal was to give them a voice in an issue that affects us as much as–if not more than–the adults, and I could tell it had succeeded.  My hope is that the competition opened up a path to new inter-generational dialogue, and that in the future, we have more say in important issues.

In short, it was an amazing experience that would not have been possible without the support from The Bridge and its volunteers.  I felt truly empowered to do what I thought wasn’t possible, and I feel as if I had true impact in my town.