Who We Are

Shooting Without Bullets is an expressive arts program that provides a framework for black and brown youth in Cleveland to develop and utilize their artistic voice to process the complex social issues affecting their lives & community. Our youth artists range from ages 14-19 and reside in Cleveland, Ohio.  Armed with cameras, art supplies, and knowledge of the systemic issues facing their communities, these teens fill gallery walls and performance stages with their perspectives. They have created powerful visual and performance art, exhibited their work to thousands, filmed a documentary, and graced the stage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Shooting Without Bullets is both art and activism, and is dedicated to bettering the Cleveland community, while documenting its beauty and its pain.

Our History

While studying in law school, our Founder and Creative Director Amanda King was elected to serve on the Cleveland Community Police Commission as an Advocate for youth and systemically excluded communities. In the course of that work, she realized how problematic it was that youth voices were not at the decision-making tables, even though youth were affected by the both the issues discussed and the decisions made to address them. To bridge this gap, in 2016 Amanda created Shooting Without Bullets, a program meant to empower youth to use art as a medium to express their thoughts on the complex issues of systematic racism, police violence and discrimination that they experience in their lives and through the media.

What We Believe

§  Youth deserve a safe place to openly discuss difficult issues affecting their communities

§  The youth voice provides a valuable point of view & must be considered in the creation of solutions to community challenges

§  Understanding of systemic issues affecting one’s community is critical to bringing about effective change

§  Art is a powerful means of universal expression and is capable of transcending race, socioeconomic status, gender, political affiliation, and any other difference in circumstance to remove barriers and allow for productive dialogue around polarizing topics

§  The Creation and consumption of art is therapeutic and should be inclusive of and accessible to everyone

Above all, we believe that all youth, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, geographic location, etc., deserve to live in a world where their authentic voices are heard and they are able to thrive.

What We Do

We provide art history education and photography instruction as a framework for visual literacy. Together we process current events and personal challenges. We create art using mediums such as photography, mixed media, fashion, and hip-hop performance. We host public pop-up exhibitions, conversations, film screenings, and workshops. We use our art and our platform to bring awareness to the experiences of our communities and to amplify voices that are not often heard.

Why We Do It

Cleveland is one of the most economically depressed and racially segregated urban areas in the United States and there are few opportunities for black and brown youth. We believe that art allows for youth to constructively express both their dreams and frustrations, while providing the world with a relatable way to see through their eyes and gain a deeper understanding of the communities in which they live. Our model encourages youth to use their art as activism, to uplift their voices in order to call out injustices and heal their communities.

How To Get Involved

We are always looking for opportunities to show our work and share our stories. We also are always in need of in-kind donations of analog cameras, film, and photo studio equipment. You can host a screening of our documentary, UNDEREXPOSED, in your community in order to spark a dialogue. We also encourage you to check out our online shop for the opportunity to purchase merchandise and our youth artists’ work. Artist/activist/educators in the Cleveland area who are interested in volunteering can email Amanda@shootingwithoutbullets.org for more information.