11/10/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Transforming Stories and Saving Kids from War-Zones: EarSay's Art Project

Almost 13 years ago I met Judith Sloan, a performance artist and oral historian. I was fresh out of prison and had an art exhibit at Solo Arts in NYC. It was there I caught one of Judith's performances.

I was impressed with Judith's wit and humor and her affection for helping others who were less fortunate. We lost touch and more than a decade later we reunited. Nowadays, Judith and her husband Warren Lehrer are doing great work and still help those in need.

In 1999, they founded EarSay, an artist-driven non-profit arts organization dedicated to uncovering and portraying stories of the uncelebrated. Their projects bridge the divide between documentary and expressive forms in books, exhibitions, on stage, in sound and electronic media. Judith and Warren are committed to fostering understanding across cultures, generations, gender and class through artistic productions and education. They bring their work to theatres, museums, schools, libraries, prisons, festivals and universities.

From the New York Times:

Ms. Sloan's art and teaching cross-pollinate: She uses immigrant stories that she and her husband have compiled -- dozens of them are included in a 2003 book, Crossing the Blvd -- to demonstrate how to shape narrative and to get students talking about their lives. And the students flood her with new material.

Their new initiative concentrates on transforming trauma into art. On Tuesday, September 15 at 7 PM, Ear Say will be hosting a benefit performance to support EarSay's Arts workshops for teenagers from war-zones. 13th Street Theatre (136 East 13th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues, Manhattan). Artists who are performing include Grammy winner Frank London, a trumpeter and co-founder of the Klezmatics, Immortal Technique, a Harlem-based rapper and activist, Deb Margolin, award-winning playwright and performance artist, Bob Holman, proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, as well as Sloan and Lehrer.

For more info visit the EarSay website.