Everybody has a story to tell, and the ViBe District wants to hear yours. “Story Exchange” is one of the latest projects to hit the blossoming arts district in Virginia Beach. The concept of “Story Exchange” is to take your story and turn it into interactive art, and is the brain-child of ViBe member Sheena Jeffers.
“I want to get people out of their homes by interacting with each other through their stories,” Jeffers said talking about the idea of Exchange.
Jeffers, a Richmond-native who works for Young Audiences, ODU and Todd Rosenlieb Dance, is working with Hampton artist Asa Jackson and other local artists, organizations and businesses to pull off the performances that will start the first Friday of May. The project is taking stories from all age groups and all walks of life.
“Integrating Story Exchange in public schools all the way through retirement homes is important to me because we want to show the spectrum of the home experience,” Jeffers said.
Here’s how the project works (this is also handy if you want to get involved):
1 – Pick a writing prompt
2 – Write your story in 500 – 1000 words
3 – E-mail stories to: ViBeStoryExchange@gmail.com
4 – If your story is chosen, you will be notified
When picking the writing prompts, Jeffers made sure that it was easy enough for anyone involved to understand, but also deep enough to share the human experience.
“I really want people talking about our lives, and wanted to ask questions that require people to get out of their comfort zones, reach deep and learn more about not only each other but themselves,” Jeffers said.
The following are the writing prompts participates can pick from:
– Write about a time you lost something or someone you loved.
– Write about a time when you had to be a good friend or someone was a good friend to you.
– Write about a time when you made a (difficult/fun/challenging/enlightening) decision and how it changed your life.
– (Adult prompt) What advice to you have for kids? (Kid prompt) What advice to you have for adults?
– What question do you think the world needs to ask itself? And why?
People who want to get involved with the project can send in their prompts as themselves or as anonymous. While there is a fear that people may not want to share their story, Exchange has already seen a handful of stories come in, and is reaching out to elementary schools to get kids involved. Also praise has come from the ViBe District business owners where the performances will take place.
“I had an older woman in her 80’s that called me about wanting to share her story and said she didn’t know how to use a computer. She asked if she could personally write hers and mail it in, and I said absolutely! That reminded me how important the purpose of this is, and creating momentum for art and community engagement,” Jeffers said.
The medium used in the performances of the stories will remain a mystery until they are acted out. It could be anything from a live painting to sculpting to a dance performance. But the stories used during the performances will have connecting themes.
“One thing we are definitely going to do with the installation is incorporate the art history of Hampton Roads and try to connect all of the art resources in the area. It’s important because a lot of history of the area will be a part of some of these stories,” Jeffers Said.
When it comes to the ViBe District, Exchange hopes that it will add a community touch to the cause that is bringing art to the Oceanfront.
“Personally it’s been fun to watch ViBe grow combining the art and culinary world, and I am excited that Exchange can be a part of that. I just want people to be fearless when they share their story and support art in Virginia Beach,” Jeffers said.
The performances of Exchange will not be the only thing going on opening night. The event will also feature other interactive art exhibits, food & wine, local craft artists and so much more.
So if you always wanted to tell your story, or thought no one wanted to hear yours, ViBe Story Exchange is offering you that opportunity.