Photos by Maurice Redwood

BOOM Concepts and ACH Clear Pathways partnered during the 2023 Summer session of ACH’s Creative Camp to start a teaching artist residency. Utilizing the BOOM Concepts network of teaching artists, ACH was able to bring local artists of aligned disciplines to a space dedicated to advancing the minds of the campers through creativity and artistry. The two Black-owned Pittsburgh-based arts organizations collaborated to complete a Summer showcase performed by the ACH students in the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium. 

The campers worked with the ACH staff and BOOM teaching artists to create a collaborative performance, to share with an audience filled with their families and community members. 

In week one, the BOOM residents Lee Owens, Quaishawn Whitlock, Dom McDuffie, and DeVaughn Rodgers arrived at ACH to immerse themselves in the culture of ACH and synergize with the staff. Discussions included goals for the Summer, goals for the students, and individual goals. Working together and in individual groups to create a strong foundation, uplifting our campers. Skits were written, choreographies were created, and the wall primed for the 2023 ACH Summer Showcase of the Battle of the Majors.  

To start Summer off the campers were given the choice of three art-centered majors : Visual Art, Dance, and Media/Theatre/Acting (MTA). Each major partnered an ACH staff member with a BOOM teaching artist. Visual art, led by ACH Visual Arts Director and BOOM studio resident Takara Canty, was focused on beautifying the outside space. Partnered with DeVaughn Rodgers and Lee Owens, Canty was motivated by the lack of decorations outside of ACH that will help to identify the space as an arts establishment.  “People are looking for an art building, and there’s no art outside. We need something that says WELCOME TO ACH! WE ARE HERE!!”. With the help of the BOOM residents and newly empowered young artists, the team produced paintings of community members and successfully called attention to the ACH entrance.

The Dance team, led by Amani Hill and Quaishawn Whitlock put on a choreographed performance to “Revolting Children” from Matthew Warchus’s 2022 interpretation of childhood classic Matilda.They also worked together with campers to screen print the ACH logo on t-shirts and scarves.

Shakya Johnson and Reese Redwood worked together with Dom McDuffie in MTA, to write and direct skits for the campers and introduced them to performance techniques that they could utilize. As well as live Hip-Hop and R&B performances written and choreographed by the campers. The showcase was over an hour long, and the students were not only proud of their performances but also of their peers. In the end MTA took home the title of Best Major for ACHS summer 2023 Creative Camp.

BOOM Concepts and ACH Clear Pathways are continuing their partnership into the school year to provide after school programming with students for the duration of 2023 into 2024!

About ACH Clear Pathways: ACH Clear Pathways is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) committed to providing enriching and new experiences to youth and families through visual and performing arts. They recognize the uniqueness of each person and are committed to providing an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome, respected and appreciated.   

Tyian Battle founded ACH Clear Pathways out of her own heartbreak in 2009, Tyian lost her son, Amon C. Harris, who passed away at age 7 due to an (congenital heart defect) undiagnosed heart condition. Amon loved the arts, and Tyian wanted to honor Amon’s memory in a way that provides access to the arts as well as a platform for youth to learn how to manage and express their emotions in a healthy way. Amon’s legacy lives on through Tyian’s passion and the work of ACH Clear Pathways students.

The Hill District neighborhood in Pittsburgh (home of ACH Clear Pathways) was founded on a deep history of the arts, including being the epicenter of Pittsburgh’s jazz and blues scene. Not to mention, it was the birthplace of August Wilson, the legendary Pulitzer Prize winning playwright.