Amana Harris is a leader in the field of community arts and a well respected advocate for the arts in k-12 education. Her newly released in July of 2012 book, Self as Super Hero: Handbook on the Creation of the Life-Size Self-Portrait is a testament to her years of experience in arts education and her belief in the power of art to empower and inspire children, youth and communities.
Amana serves as the Associate Director of the Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc. (AHC), a West Oakland based organization whose mission is to eliminate violence by offering creative and educational programs that uplift the spirit to build peaceful and loving communities for all humanity. She has dedicated 18 years of her professional life to help build and sustain the organization while creating ArtEsteem. As an award winning program of AHC, ArtEsteem has served as a vital force to creatively galvanize the resources to provide arts integrated curriculum with a focus on social justice and self-development to over 57 at-risk schools and communities since 1995 reaching over 50,000 children, youth and families.
Her art as an artist has been to serve as a conduit to make the arts accessible to the voiceless, the marginalized and the forgotten. Her most notable work includes:
- Self as Super Hero: Handbook on the Creation of the Life-Size Self Portrait - an arts integrated curriculum guide for teachers, art educators and parents to engage children, youth and adults in an authentic, investigative and imaginative process. The concepts, tools and recommendations in the book are based on theories and practices gleaned from lessons implemented in schools and community centers over the past 15 years. The curriculum has produced hundreds of innovative and inspiring work by students addressing some of societies greatest concerns and inspires individuals to be change agents understanding that our existence doesn't unfold in isolation from the fate of others. The book aims to invoke the notion that we are the ones we are waiting for to save ourselves and others.
- The Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, West Oakland and Emeryville's largest and most historical public mural project which uniquely distinguishes Amana's abilities to integrate her work as a community activist, artist and educator. This work during a time of gentrification and community unrest provides a vehicle for youth of color to articulate their struggles and fears with hope and imagination for resolution while gaining a stake and increasing cultural capital in a community that is vastly changing demographically. The project encompasses four underpasses which include 7 walls under the 580 freeway from San Pablo Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Way between 35th and 36th streets. Approximately 28,000 square feet of concrete blighted canvas has been approved by Oakland City Council to paint with the mission of cultivating, educating and engaging schools and youth in community issues through the power of public art. The project is in progress while Wall #1 was completed July 2012; and Wall #2 completed February 2014.
- Over 15 years of community based art exhibits showcasing professionally curated youth art and performances. 2014 will mark Amana's 16th annual ArtEsteem art exhibition entitled, "Reflections of Me and My World". Each year 10 to 25 schools are engaged to exhibit the untapped and raw talent and voice of Oakland and Bay Area children and youth.