Our Leadership Class' Tour of California College of the Arts

Last week students of ArtEsteem’s West Oakland Legacy and Leadership Project visited the California College of the Arts (CCA) Oakland Campus. The trip was led by CCA students of the Art in the Public Interest course, which is taught by professor Amana Harris. Harris is also the Executive Director of Attitudinal Healing Connection Inc. and every year brings in CCA students as interns for the organization.

Emerging slowly and rotating slightly, the black iron bar exited the orange glow coming from the mouth of the furnace. Punctuated by a lemon sized orange jewel of molten glass, Brett ( 22 year old glass student at CCA, and student intern at AHC from Amana Harris’ AIPI class) skillfully manipulated the iron bar out from the 2000 degree furnace, and with great care swung it around and brought it close to a large sand box in the middle of the room. The glass, if dropped accidentally could dissipate its heat safely in the sand.  From around the room, and standing behind the large red safety line painted on the ground, the class of the West Oakland Legacy and Leadership project, watched quietly and intently as other glass students from CCA watched listlessly as spectators of this fascinating spectacle daily, yet with a certain satisfaction observing the faces of others less fortunate to be so well acquainted with the process. Brett explained the challenges and joys of working with glass, especially the need to kiln some pieces for weeks on end to gradually reduce the temperature of the glass and ensure it does not explode.  This was just one of the first stops that the WOLLP class made on their recent field trip to the California College of the Arts campus.

The next stop was the ceramics studio where the group was greeted with warm lighting, dark wood shelving filled with varieties of sculpture pieces, as well as clay vessels in various degrees of completion. They were greeted with a welcoming attitude and beckoned in by CCA student Kelsey to first take a look at the 3D ceramic printer that the students have at their disposal.

In the far corner of the studio 10 professional electric pottery wheels were lined up and the students of WOLLP were treated to a demonstration by Yao, an upperclassman thrower who was fabled to be able to throw backward, facing away from the wheel, with his hands behind his back, although the group was unable to see such a feat on this visit.  He demonstrated the delicate control and subtle strength needed to first center a block of clay, literally thrown at the center of the wheel when starting a new piece, and then to guide it up into the elegant curves of a vase, bowl or cup.  Later the WOLLP students were able to get their hands dirty, and try to coax a recognizable form from their own shapeless mound of potential.  


The trip to CCA culminated with a trip to the animation department where the students learned that artistic expression and creativity could lead them to a decidedly more technical world where powerful mac computers and 27 inch Wacom graphics tablets are the tools of the trade.  With our ever changing world becoming more digital, Grace and Kalista, our CCA animation majors who were chaperoning this leg of the trip explained to us how the traditional and the digital meet in front of the glow of a high resolution computer screen in a technique they all lovingly called “tradigital”.  That is traditional techniques done digitally.  

What trip to a college campus would be complete without a trip to the campus cafeteria.  After a long and intensive look at just some of the facilities available to students of CCA and a picture of what an art school education might look like in general, our students had worked up an appetite.  After a bite to eat it was time for us to pack up and return to our homes.  It is uncertain if what they saw and experienced might someday lead them down the path to an art school education, but one thing is certain:  CCA is an exciting and dynamic environment with the tools, the engaged student body, and the guidance from teachers for seemingly limitless expression of creativity.  We hope that that feeling will rub off on our students so that they can be the the next generation of active, expressive minds that believe in their limitless potential to change the world around them with their creative ideas, and that there is a place out there for them that is ready to offer support, and has the tools ready and waiting.

Oakland Tech Artesteem Dance Performance Backdrop Project.

5 foot by 8 foot, the backdrops for Oakland Tech’s dance performance are a collaborative piece between ArtEsteem students at the high school and the Tech Techies. The pieces feature portraits of women of color through a high contrast, posterized color motif that has been used to create a dynamic and striking presence on stage. The pieces are hung at either side of the stage and are moved on and off the stage with a pulley, smoothly and ethereally interacting with the dancers.  

Students of the Oakland Tech Artesteem group along with the CCA student interns work on penciling in the image on canvas using a projector.

Students of the Oakland Tech Artesteem group along with the CCA student interns work on penciling in the image on canvas using a projector.

The effort took a total of 4 weeks, from start to finish, to paint and mount the 5 pieces. The images were manipulated by ArtEsteem instructor Josh Krey, and then projected onto canvases.  Students learned techniques on how large scale imagery can be quickly and systematically produced, where size is no limit and only the imagination and hard work determine our achievement. The painting process was simplified by penciling in the contours of large areas of flat color in varying values to create the sense of depth. The areas were filled in by hand with acrylic paint, magically revealing the image and its colors and showing first time painters that painting does not have to be intimidating.

One of our ArtEsteem students, Kathy Liang, described her take on the backdrops and performance:

“The Black Girl Magic backdrop seemed to represent the presence of people especially women of color. Having many women of different ethnicities up in large scale and also on the stage. In our society, I feel as if women of color have so much to deal with just because of their gender and race. The women we painted onto the canvases were empowering and I felt like they were screaming, We belong here!”

The images depict women of color from different cultural backgrounds, addressing the theme of diverse standards of beauty, of which the dance performance, “Black Girl Magic,” has been founded upon. The dances touch upon differing ancient and non western stories and concepts about feminine strength and beauty. The backdrops are designed to evoke the idea of diversity and feminine beauty, as well as to create a bright and striking palette for the dancers to draw from and interact with visually.

A special thanks goes out to Casey Fern, the instructor of the Tech Techies, who put a lot of time, effort, and the use of their space for this project.  Also a special thanks to the two CCA student assistants Iris and Pamela who were integral in the paint mixing process and general logistics of the project.



"What makes a great leader?"

The 4th grade Youth Leadership group at Hoover Elementary, as you may know, consists of the creators and inspiration for our fourth Oakland Superhero mural project. The painting of the mural on the West Street I-580 underpass is set to begin in April 2017.

In the meantime, the group has been honing in on both the artistic and political advocacy skills they will be utilizing to paint the mural in April. This past week the discussion centered around leadership and actions that can be taken to solve issues they witness within their communities on a daily basis.

“Trustworthy!” shouted TJ, to suggest a necessary attribute that every leader must have. “They don’t follow the crowd and they do the right thing,” suggested another student. Another emphasized that what makes a great leader is one who “is not racist and knows the importance of diversity,” as well as one who can create “new ways of thinking and be a change-maker.”

Influenced by their experiences and their environments, the students were inclined to create superheroes that could solve the issues they brought up when discussing leadership and action plans that can be taken. Through their artistic expression, the students work on personal growth and practice the skills of community-building and collaboration that they need for community advocacy.

Stay tuned for more news on ArtEsteem’s programs and the installation of our next mural, and help us continue to build self-esteem through creation. Our work is impossible without the support of the community.

Click to donate at http://www.ahc-oakland.org/donate/

Black History Month - A Break in Tradition

This February we are called to think deeply about why Mr. Carter G. Woodson pioneered the celebration of "Negro History Week" in 1926. It is telling. He noted that Black American contributions "were overlooked, ignored and even suppressed by the writers of history of text books and the teachers who use them." Race prejudice, he concluded, "is merely the logical result of tradition," the tradition of the United States of America. In 1933, Mr. Woodson wrote his famous book, The Miseducation of the Negro, which some might say could be renamed The Miseducation of the Citizens of the United States of America. World renowned actor, Morgan Freeman, similarly stated, " I don't want a Black History Month. Black History is American History."

It is interesting to note that this commemorative time was chosen during the second week in February of 1926, to coincide with the marking of the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Black History week was designated by Congress to honor the contributions of Black Americans in the development of the United States of America to become a country that works for everyone. The honoring of Black History Week was acknowledged and later it was extended to the full month of February, the shortest month in our calendar year.

It has been over 90 years since the establishment of Black History Week and as you can see we still have much work to do to honor the contributions of all citizens, regardless of color, creed, religion, or language. Learning about the contributions of people of color is the first step in opening up our minds to the histories that have been denied to the world.

#OaklandSuperHeroes Mural Project Update

The Hoover Youth Leadership team are the creators and inspiration for our next #OaklandSuperHeroes mural project, which will be painted in March 2017 on Oakland’s West Street I-580 underpass.

The Youth designed Superheros that solve problems in the community by helping to rebuild after natural disasters, clean neighborhoods, stopping gun violence, providing resources for the homeless and extending love to people with low self-esteem.

The Hoover Leadership Group standing at the steps of Oakland's City Hall prior to presenting at the Public Art Advisory Committee for mural approval on December 5th, 2016 .

The Hoover Leadership Group standing at the steps of Oakland's City Hall prior to presenting at the Public Art Advisory Committee for mural approval on December 5th, 2016 .

The Hoover Youth Leadership Group meets every Wednesday where students engage in a variety of lessons in visual art, literacy, mindfulness and ways to be advocates in their communities. This week on December 5th, 2016, a portion of our Youth Leadership Group (4th Graders) met with the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) to present the designs for our 4th Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, with production slated to begin in March 2017.

See the proposed design for our next #OaklandSuperHeroes mural project and learn more here: http://www.ahc-oakland.org/blog/2016/10/18/design-for-ahcs-4th-west-oakland-superheroes-mural-revealed

Hoover Youth Leadership group painting larger-than-life sunflowers to be installed in the school community garden.

Hoover Youth Leadership group painting larger-than-life sunflowers to be installed in the school community garden.

Our work is not possible without the generous love and support of our beloved community. No donation is too big or small. Your support will go far in helping us:

  • Create more murals in Oakland
  • Offer healing circles to families in mourning or experiencing catastrophic challenges
  • Keep our #ArtEsteem programs in underfunded schools where they are needed most

Thank you so much for your love and solidarity. 
We look forward to building and creating with you more in 2017.



Nikko on #ArtAsActivism

“If given the platform, what message would you want to communicate to your school, community and to the world?”

We asked Westlake Middle School students and they voiced strong ideas around current politics, the quality of food in schools, housing and immigrant rights. These young people addressed violence and envisioned a world filled with peace and unity. Concepts of Design: color theory, composition and typography were applied to posters that will be exhibited at Westlake Middle School.

Nikko’s piece below, is about celebrating diversity and respecting all people. Enjoy these words of wisdom from our Oakland Youth.


“We are all different, but everyone should be treated equally. Everyone has different skills or talents, but we are really all the same - we are all human.  I want my art to inspire others to find the courage to do what they are passionate about. We are always asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ A lot of us don’t know the answer to that - until they see something that inspires them. I want my art to influence people to find the courage to fulfill their dreams. That would make the world a better place.” 

Nikko - 8th Grade, 2016 at West Oakland Middle School

On Giving Tuesday November 29th, 2016, we launched our #ArtAsActivism campaign featuring our student artists using art as tools for healing and community empowerment. 

It’s not too late to join in and support! Help us raise visibility of our student artists’ on social media by ‘Liking’ our #ArtAsActivism posts.  Donate to AHC to keep our programs alive. Our work is not possible without your help!


West Oakland Legacy & Leadership Project - Dec 2016 Update

WOLLP After School Program serves high school Youth over the course of three consecutive 10 week sessions. The program is a collaboration between AHC, City Slicker Farms and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.  

Each Week students build leadership skills, connect with civic leaders, experience Visual Art, Urban Agriculture and Environmental Science.

The program is completing its first 10 week session culminating with a financial literacy training as students will be receiving the first stipend for their civic engagement as leaders in WOLLP.

During this session students began learning about traditional Ohlone Culture, Oakland’s local history, local ecology and environmental science activities including soil quality testing. Students also engaged in traditional and contemporary art through tule technology, ceramics, plaster casting and paint focusing primarily on 3 dimensional forms. Upcoming lessons will include Air Quality monitoring, invistigating the connictions between quality of life concerns and the watershed, wind technology, two dimensional art techniques and  Advocacy in art.

Support the Memorial Funds for the Godfrey and Miller Families

Over the past week, the need for Healing Circles have intensified. A string of senseless deaths due to gun related violence and the horrible tragedy of the Ghostship #OaklandFire have taken a toll on Oakland residents and its community.

Travon Godfrey, 19, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee and at her February 2016 Town Hall on gun violence. Travon and his friend Deante Miller lost their lives to gun violence November 28th, 2016, just blocks away from AHC’s

Travon Godfrey, 19, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee and at her February 2016 Town Hall on gun violence. Travon and his friend Deante Miller lost their lives to gun violence November 28th, 2016, just blocks away from AHC’s

Our solution is to bring people together to heal and to forgive in Healing Circles. We ask that you please support our families whose loved ones have been senselessly taken due to gun violence by donating to the following memorial funds:



We extend our heart, love and hope to our families and to all of Oakland during this very difficult time.

Highlights from #AHCGala2016

On November 5th, 2016, the Attitudinal Healing Connection held its 27th Anniversary Gala, celebrating 27 Years of Building Legacy and honoring friends and family who have exemplified our mission to empower and heal communities to break free from the cycles of violence through art, creativity and education.

AHC Co-Founder Kokomon Clottey, AHC President Guillermo Ortiz, AHC Executive Director Amana Harris, Founders of Attitudinal Healing International Gerald G. Jampolsky and Diane V. Cirincione-Jampolsky, and AHC Co-Founder Aeeshah Clottey.

AHC Co-Founder Kokomon Clottey, AHC President Guillermo Ortiz, AHC Executive Director Amana Harris, Founders of Attitudinal Healing International Gerald G. Jampolsky and Diane V. Cirincione-Jampolsky, and AHC Co-Founder Aeeshah Clottey.

It was a truly magical evening that included a banquet dinner, silent auction, our Super Awards Ceremony, and live music and dancing with the King Cosby Band.

Over 200 guests gathered to join us at Scott’s Seafood Pavilion, including the Co-Founders of Attitudinal Healing International, who created the 12 Principles of Attitudinal Healing which have laid the foundation for our work and legacy over the past 27 years .

Through this event, we were able to raise more than $60,000 to support AHC’s programs, including ArtEsteem, the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, the West Oakland Legacy & Leadership Project.  Because of the generous support of our sponsors and community, we will be able to continue our work building vibrant communities and opportunities for our children and families to truly thrive!

Thank you to all of our sponsors and everyone who attended.

Here are some of our highlights from #AHCGala2016!

AHC Co-Founder Kokomon Clottey and Ousseynou Kouyate opened the evening with the beautiful sounds and rhythms of West African Drumming.


Our MC and President, Guillermo Ortiz, offered a beautiful invocation, calling on our ancestors and the spirits of the earth to fill the gala with love and good energy.


“Kokomon and I heard a deep call from the bowels of the earth, to support and uplift our children.”  

Our Founders Aeeshah and Kokomon Clottey thanked our sponsors and friends for their generous outpouring of support.


Amana Harris.jpg

“Art involves research investigation, knowledge creativity, problem solving, skill, concentration vision, creation and more. To make, to create, that is art, and each and every one of us in here is an artistic being.”

AHC Executive Director Amana Harris, originator of the ArtEsteem Program and Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project


Impact Testimonials

Guests were treated to powerful and moving testimonials from some of our program alumni and participants.


Mike Brown was a 7th grade student at Lowell Middle School when he first joined AHC’s ArtEsteem program, during the 2004 / 2005 school year.  Mike Brown went on to graduate from Skyline High School in 2010, joined the Navy in 2011, and returned to join us at the gala after his deployment.  He spoke at our gala about how his time with ArtEsteem impacted his life as a youth and young adult.

“AHC has had a great impact in my life. They helped me keep me sane, and helped me become the young man that I’m continuing to grow to be. I learned a lot of life skills  around work ethic, and how to be a great human being. I am so thankful that all of these people have come into my life and I really appreciate all of you."

Mike Brown - ArtEsteem Alumni


AHC Gala Anaya Williams.jpg

In 2007 we had the opportunity to launch a 12 week leadership program that was conceptualized as a means to support Oakland residents to build their inner transformational tools, skills, service learning and resources in order to create more positive communities, schools and safe neighborhoods for themselves and their families, despite the negative influences and challenging circumstances many of them experience. Anaya Williams, a Neighborhood Leadership Institute graduate, shared how her experience in the program changed her life.

“When I met Ms. Aeeshah I just had a son and I was at my lowest. I had been through so much in life, I was broken, I was tired, I was sad. I went into the leadership program an angel with broken wings, and I walked out a courageous woman.  When I graduated from the leadership class, I told Ms. Aeeshah I was going to change the world. And I am.” 

Anaya Williams - Neighborhood Leadership Institute Graduate


5 years ago, Kenny Johnson and his family were devastatingly impacted by the violence that affects too many of our youth today.  AHC made a commitment to continue healing circles for Kenny; and with the support of his family, community, and others, Kenny has demonstrated miraculous strength and a remarkable ability to forgive. His untethered belief in his ability to heal and overcome tremendous odds has been extraordinary, and we were honored to have Kenny join us and speak about his experience with AHC Healing Circles. His testimonial received a standing ovation.

“The first year when we did the healing circle, I was in the hospital in intensive care. I was on the phone and they called me and sent all their blessings through the phone - it put a big smile on my face and showed me that I still have something to live for.” - Kenny Johnson


Keynote Speech

Antwan Wilson.jpg

Antwan Wilson graced the stage and spoke about what  “The Art of Building Legacy,” means for him as the Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District.

"We can choose to say that We have tens of thousands of young people, black white and otherwise, who do not know their history.

We can choose to do something about that. We can choose to say that every young person will get to understand who they are, and where they come from. We can choose to say that we want young people to get an education, that isn’t just about books and science, but a value and understanding of Self, of growing from and with a community, and deciding to be more than what others might say they can or can’t do. In Oakland Unified, that for me is the legacy that i’m proud to say that I play a small part in inspiring.” - Antwan Wilson, OUSD Superintendent


Super S/Hero Awards

During our Super S/Hero Awards ceremony, AHC honored 3 passionate community leaders who have dedicated their work to empowering the lives of Bay Area youth and families .


We honored Carmen Hendon as one of our Super Sheroes because of her remarkable devotion to the children of Oakland.  During her thank you speech, she lead gala attendees through the same call-and-response chant she has been using to begin the day with her students for the past 40 years.  

“I will do my best. I will do my best. Because, because.  I am the best.  Don't worry about me. And have a nice day.” - Carmen Hendon, OUSD Educator for 40+ years


Brahm Ahmadi.jpg

Our Super Hero Brahm Ahmadi is a social entrepreneur who works passionately to build healthier inner city communities by creating change within the food system.  His work has received national attention for its projects in food enterprise, urban agriculture and nutrition education.

“I’m building a grocery store in West Oakland.   But it's a lot more than just a grocery store. I’m building a platform; for dignity, for equity, for justice, for opportunity, to build community, to rebuild the foundation of our culture, to nourish our bodies our hearts and our minds. It is a joy for me to do this work and to be a part of this community. And I am very touched, for this moment of recognition of our work.” - Brahm Ahmadi


Chris Chatmon.jpg

We honored Chris Chatmon as one of our Super Heroes because of his commitment to improving life outcomes for all youth and especially African~American males. He has dedicated his career and life's work to creating pathways of success within Oakland and beyond.

“I am because We are. We are because I am. May the circle never be broken. So much is resonating with me being here tonight in so many different levels. I want to acknowledge Kokomon and Aeeshah for being role models to me, and not just community leaders but partners and parents not only to their birth children, but to the children of this community.  Im adopted, so people used to tell me that blood is thicker and water and used to say things that sometimes didn't necessarily apply to me. But really I am the investment of so many people in my community that never allowed me to give up. When they saw me with my head down or my heart broken they would pick me up. And the way that I choose to acknowledge that is by giving that right back."  - Chris Chatmon, Deputy Chief of Equity at OUSD and Executive Director of African American Male Achievement


Silent Auction & Raffle

A beautiful silent auction full of art and gift baskets donated by individuals and businesses all over the Bay Area helped us raise over $5,000 dollars to support and continue our work.

We also held a raffle with 3 prizes that included, a $300 Gift Certificate to Pave Fine Jewelry, 1 customized deep carved djembe drum from Sageman Drums, and an amazing 5-day stay for two on the beautiful island of Kauai!

Thank you to the following raffle and silent auction donors:

Abel J Guillén, Acote, Adventure Cat Sailing Charters, Amana Harris, Amin Hassan, American Conservatory Theater, Aquarium of the Bay SF, Barefoot Movement, Barnes & Nobel, The Dock, Bladium Sports & Fitness Club, Blue and Gold Fleet, Books, Inc., Boca Nova, California Canoe & Kayak, Children’s Fairyland, Dashe Cellars, Dan Kalb, Diane V. Cirincione-Jampolsky, Ph.D., Exploratorium, Fine Arts Museum of SF, Flax Art & Design, Flying Studios, Forge Pizza, Franne Golde, Golden Gate Fields, Great Western Power Company, House Kombucha, Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., John Ezelle, Keena Romano, Kokomon Clottey, Kimberly Turner, Kingston 11, Lindsey Millikan, Metropolitan Golf Links, New Parkway, NHI Massage School, Numi Tea, Oakland Ice Center, Oaklandish, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland Symphony, Pave Fine Jewelry, Piedmont Springs, Pier 39, Pikesville, Pixar, Rose Sullivan, Richard Cohn & Barbara Gay, Sageman Drums, San Francisco Zoo, SF Exploratorium, SF Museum of Modern Art, Siu Ming Leung Garber, SoleSpace Clothing, Spirits Competition, St. George Spirits, Starline Social Club, The Brow Lounge, The Crucible Oakland, Waterfront Hotel, Will Davis & Paula Powers, Whole Foods, Guillermo Ortiz and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Following the powerful speeches and testimony and raffle prizes, we sang and danced the night away with the King Cosby Band.

Special thank you to our table captains, sponsors and donors that made our Gala possible. We encourage our friends and community to support these organizations and businesses who have answered the call to contribute and join us as we continue to create a safer, more just world for all.

Ubuntu!  We cannot be without you!

See you at our 30th Anniversary in 2019!

A Word from our Executive Director, Amana Harris


Greetings! This is a very important week for AHC.  As we gear up to celebrate AHC’s 27th Anniversary Gala: The Art of Building Legacy, we take the time to reflect on the many incredible stakeholders that have been a part of our vision.  This year marks AHC’s resiliency, tenacity and ability to thrive!

We are clear that so many individuals, businesses, foundations and corporations have been instrumental in our development and growth and we are incredibly thankful and humble.

For all of whom will join us this Saturday, thank you for being with us during this amazing and special moment. For those unable to make it, we know that you are with us in heart and spirit.

AHC’s 27th Anniversary Gala: The Art of Building Legacy is: SOLD OUT!

If you would like to join us for the next AHC Anniversary Event, mark your calendars for our 30th Anniversary Gala in the fall of 2019!


With Love,


Amana Harris
Executive Director
Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc.