Our team of professional artists collaborate with youth and social justice innovators to create healing content, curriculum and commentary around the most pressing issues faced by families and communities affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Experiences.
“Photography means to draw with light. And mindfulness taught me that we’re all made up of light and darkness, joy and suffering. Embracing these dualities helped me grow as a person and an artist.”
Amanda is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker and New York Times best-selling author. Amanda served as an Official White House photographer responsible for documenting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from 2013 to 2017. She is one of only a few female White House photographers in history. In 2018, the John F. Kennedy Center appointed Amanda as a Turnaround Artist, highlighting the importance of arts in underserved schools. She is helping to bring awareness to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) while using creativity, mindfulness, education and collaboration to address trauma.
“Once you find acceptance, you find your grounding.”
Sister Peace spent five years in government work before realizing that something was missing. Feeling spiritually bereft, she began practicing at the Washington Mindfulness Community where she encountered the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Compelled by his teachings, she relocated in 2006 to the Plum Village Monastery in France to deepen her mindfulness practice and where she was ordained a Buddhist nun in 2008. Sister Peace currently resides at the Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi where she practices Engaged Buddhism.
"What grounds me is connection with people. The work this team does has a unique ability to inspire...and there's something magical about what art can do."
Mark is an EMMY Award-nominated filmmaker and photographer working to share stories with themes related to identity, history and community transformation. During his work as a photojournalist, Mark documented a year in the life of family farmers, the desegregation of schools in South Carolina, and the aftermath of 9/11. His work has appeared in the Anchorage Daily News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution,The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, The New York Times, St. Petersburg Times, Sports Illustrated, The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News, Time magazine and USA Today, among others.
“Love grounds me. It brings me home no matter where I am.”
Alan is an EMMY Award-winning filmmaker. He worked as a photojournalist for eight newspapers, covering thousands of assignments including the devastating aftermath of both Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti while specializing in long-term documentary projects. Alan created an anthology of short documentaries called $5 Cover: Amplified which premiered at Sundance New Frontiers. He was invited to learn from legendary director Werner Herzog at his first Rogue Film School and made Leaves in the Wind with U2 guitarist, the Edge. His film, As I Am, aired on the PBS series Independent Lens and was nominated for a national Emmy Award for new approaches to documentary filmmaking.
“Knowing I have a gift, and the power to inspire people… a gift you can move others with… it’s a grounding and humbling feeling.”
Lil Buck is a world-renowned dancer and Kennedy Center Turnaround Artist who seeks to inspire and change the world while elevating the artistic, educational and social impact of dance. His collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma performing The Swan went viral in 2011. He has since collaborated with a broad spectrum of artists including JR, Damian Woetzel, the New York City Ballet, and Madonna as well as brands including Apple, Lexus, Louis Vuitton, and Versace.
"Having a practice of mindfulness is working in the inner world… Every day just going back and going to this magical place that is yours, and yours alone. And we all have it.”
Valerie is a singer-songwriter offering an original sound to the world. Bob Dylan named her one of his favorite new artists. Valerie is a Kennedy Center Turnaround Artist using arts to transforms students’ lives. She says “creativity is a universal language that inspires us to soar. It encourages students to reach beyond their limitations and embrace the endless possibilities of their dreams.”
“To ground myself, I focus on my breath and honor the breath of others.”
Dr. Rico has combined his 15 years of experience as a law enforcement officer with dance to show art as an effective tool towards non-violent interactions, cultural sensitivity and conflict resolution.
“I’m grounded in being uncomfortable… to be okay. That these hard moments are a part of life and know that growth is coming. And growing pains. And knowing that little bit more."
Chris is a writer with a unique perspective about life. When Chris was five, his father was murdered, riddled by more than 20 bullets in a gang shootout. Chris interned at the White House during the Obama administration and is currently a producer at Memphis Mountaintop Media.
“Purpose has been my grounding.”
Drumma Boy is a GRAMMY Award- winning and multi-platinum music producer, known for creating some of hip hop’s biggest chart-topping hits. Drumma Boy recently released My Brother’s Keeper, a new album dedicated to his brother who was shot and killed in 2018. Drumma wants to inspire creativity in people saying, “diving into a creative world eliminates negativity, keeps you busy and out of trouble. It gives you purpose.”
"Staying rooted and feeling Memphis and trying to remain mindful, keeps me not only humble but deeply grateful to have incarnated on the planet in this very sacred musical place."
Paul is an EMMY Award-nominated and GRAMMY Award-nominated multi-instrumentalist with a deep knowledge of and passion for Memphis music. Paul has scored many of the Grounded films and is the co-founder of Crosstown Sound, a new recording studio of Crosstown Arts, a contemporary arts organization dedicated to further cultivating the creative community in Memphis.
“Understanding the power of mark making… a simple brush stroke or a pencil mark can change a child’s life… that humbles me… it grounds me.”
Terry is a Memphis-born sculptor and painter who explores the complexity between art and life. He frequently works with youth, ranging from elementary schools to juvenile detention centers. “A simple brush stroke can change a child’s life. That humbles me,” he says. Terry is an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis Department of Art.
“Art grounds me. It’s a place that’s taken me outside of myself. It’s allowed me to travel. It’s allowed me to explore ideas. And through that, it’s given a firm footing for how I see and understand things."
Phillip has been working with mural arts around the world for over 15 years, specializing in participatory community art. Recently, he facilitated a restorative justice mural project exploring the concept of the still life in the context of the criminal justice system, especially as it relates to juvenile life sentencing without parole.
“I try to write what the youth can understand, my real life stories that they can relate to, how I overcame and how life is better now.”
Devonte is an artist with knowledge beyond his years. He recently graduated from high school in Memphis and is currently working on a mixtape called Be What a Bullet Can’t Be, inspired by his work with Grounded and his experience visiting the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
Our emphasis on mindfulness extends directly from the relationship between Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Deploying a strategic combination of art and mindfulness activations across Memphis can release trauma, recalibrate value alignment and reduce violence by elevating consciousness, building community and shifting culture towards abundance.
By honoring the challenges we’ve faced in life as our strengths and not our weaknesses, we’re able to harness the power of resilience. This is where creativity and opportunity flourishes.
The diversity of our backgrounds, art genres, and platforms, enable us to reach, empower and inspire a broad audience.