What is I AM MY LIFE?
I AM MY LIFE is about teaching, promoting, and inspiring inclusive education through the power of personal narrative. We seek to help transform adversity into positive, creative material for personal growth and community engagement through merging the arts, education access, and social justice.
Inspired by the book For Colored Boys and the I AM MY LIFE theater production, this site is a part of our movement to platform and promote inclusive curriculum and art education that integrates community members by similarities first, and celebrates differences.
IAMMYLIFE.org originated from a theater and dance production written and co-directed by Chaz Barracks and mentors. The original production initiated our evolving work of transforming life experiences and personal narratives into artistic practice such as movement and visual arts workshops and collaborative projects.
From speaking, articles, and resources on how to be get involved with non-profits that share the IAMMYLIFE mission, it’s all about embracing one’s story, struggles and all.
Our programs are fiscally supported by a partnership with Storefront for Community design, a 501C (3) organization that works at the scale of human relationships, forming friendships and facilitating partnerships across disciplinary, physical, and socioeconomic boundaries. Together our interdisciplinary approach to community engagement aligns our mission and partnership to facilitate programs and initiatives where agency is kept with the members of the specific communities we work within. Whether it’s through a storytelling or design-thinking workshops, Storefront for Community Design has become a foundational program for how we form collaborations and join the table with other nonprofit leaders. Also, many of our programs will be help at the new 6PIC space.
Partnering with Storefront allows us to be in a space where we can share our skills with other experts who possess a mission of producing equity in our community through access to education, the arts, and ability to empower oneself & others through personal narrative. We rely on arts and culture, activism, and design thinking to forge new connections in the community, as it’s creative and inclusive collaborations on social justice that contributes to making our city, Richmond, Virginia, the most innovate place in the south.
You can support both I AM MY LIFE programs by making a donation memoed to I AM MY LIFE programs through Storefront’s website.
The I AM MY LIFE Theater and Dance Performance
This article was originally published by the University of Richmond in 2011.
In his final semester at the University of Richmond, criminal justice major Chaz Barracks worked with theatre and dance faculty to create a performance piece that tells his life story through movement.
Being a cast member in “Rent” inspired Chaz to embrace the things — good and bad — that have happened in his life.
Chaz partnered with Dr. Dorothy Holland, associate professor of theatre at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts to interpret his life adversities into stage experiences — including when, as a seventh grader, he watched his mother begin her first prison sentence, and the persecution and harassment he dealt with in his freshman dorm in college.
With these events transformed into monologues, narratives and movement, then Director of Dance Myra Daleng helped Chaz perfect choreography, and he enlisted several students to bring each experience to life on the stage. The project was supported by an arts and sciences research grant.