Leveraging the power of arts, culture, and the creative industries to frame, seed, and scale innovation in health and wellbeing.
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Artist Projects

Artists: Creators of HOPE

We work with artists who have the lived-experience of our partner communities, and train them to think about cultivating hope and belonging, and impacting health, justice, and sustainability.

These co-creation initiatives are:

  • Fueled by the arts: visual, spoken word, music, photography, culinary, performance, digital, etc.

  • Grounded in culture: values, beliefs, traditions, norms, etc.

  • Celebrating community identity: LGBTQ+, African American, Women, LatinX, Organizational, etc.


Kentucky Artist Innovator in Health (KAIH) will work in partnership with community members to create a digital, arts-based, intervention for obesity-prevention that focuses on the cultural drivers of trust, hope, belonging, and loneliness.

Kentucky artists interested in applying for the KAIH residency are invited to submit an artist information sheet (accessible here) and CV to by 11:59pm ET on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.


Our Emotional Wellbeing (2019-2020) Smoketown in Louisville, KY

A two-year initiative designed to measurably impact the hope and belonging of young people 12-20 years old through an arts-based co-creation process.


Our Breathitt (2017-2020) Jackson, KY

Our Breathitt is a community arts and health experience that launched in fall 2017, through IDEAS xLab’s HEAL Community Approach, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.  

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The Guide to Greatness (2018-2019) Louisville, KY

The Guide to Greatness was designed to activate the potential of individuals in the community and their arts and culture assets by supporting opportunities for increasing civic engagement and building community capacity.

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One Poem At A Time (2017-2018) Smoketown in Louisville, KY

To date, One Poem At A Time has replaced 19 billboards in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood with positive historical and contemporary images of people and places, paired with one-line poems written with community members.

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Hero + Shero Journeys (2017-2018) Smoketown in Louisville, KY

A series of artist residencies that combine the power of community with art, data science, mythology and storytelling to engage over 150 sixth graders at Smoketown's Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville, KY, to learn about civic engagement and policy-making that can positively impact environmental health.

Equity Platform, Button Soap and Girls'n Pearls Hand Soap (2017) Natchez, MS

In collaboration with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Southwest Mississippi Chapter, their 12 “Girls’n Pearls” (girls ages 8 to 18 mentored by the Chapter), and Natchez-based artists and small business owners – Brazilian artist Cadu created the Equity PlatformGirls’n Pearls Soap Sculpture, and Button Soap.

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Smoketown Life|Line Project (2016) Smoketown in Louisville, KY

The Smoketown Life|Line sculpture uses vertical metal rods to represent the “lifelines” of residents in Louisville, Kentucky’s Smoketown neighborhood.

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@Worthy of Everything (2018) Smoketown in Louisville, KY

The Worthy of Everything campaign (Instagram @WorthyofEverything and Facebook features images of people who live, work, worship, learn and play in Smoketown, and beyond. The images are paired with quotes by the individuals depicted lifting up what the community is worthy of. 

Photovoice (2016-2017) Smoketown in Louisville, KY and Natchez, MS

In two of our Project HEAL sites, Photovoice has been used as an engagement tool and way to facilitate a conversation around quality of life and policy change. Local photographers worked with community members or groups of students to explore aspects of their personal experiences and environment. The Photovoice projects were then presented during community events.

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Kentucky Lab (2017) Smoketown in Louisville, KY and Jackson, KY

Policy is an imagining of the future. This is one of the core domains of all artists and an activity that is fundamentally cultural. To be sustainable, health and community development policies must find ways to become embedded in local cultures. Project HEAL: Kentucky Lab includes the Word To Wellness, a podcast created by Mackenzie Berry, a poet exploring the rural-urban dynamic of health access in Kentucky


Roots & Wings (2015-2017) Louisville, KY + Senegal, West Africa

Created by IDEAS xLab and Bridge Kids International in partnership with The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, Roots and Wings was a game changer in Louisville's cultural scene from 2015-2016.

Image by Kelsey Page of heARTstory participant Marquita "Pinky" Busby.

Image by Kelsey Page of heARTstory participant Marquita "Pinky" Busby.

heARTstory (2016) in Louisville, KY

heARTstory was a 4-month artist residency organized by IDEAS xLab in partnership with American Heart Association Open Your Heart committee, and featured an interdisciplinary group of artists who highlighted the impact of heart disease on women through a contemporary lens. 


Urban Green (Ongoing) Smoketown in Louisville, KY and Versailles, FR aims to transform fallow urban land into a productive and engaging greenspace fueling local entrepreneurship through the training and employment of opportunity youth.

2019 was the 6th year for Urban Green: The King’s Garden Exchange -- a collaboration started by IDEAS xLab, YouthBuild Louisville, NYC-based Christian Duvernois Landscape/Gallery, Antoine Jacobsohn (Director-Potager du Roi, Versailles, FR), and Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre (Retired Conservateur Général du Patrimoine Honoraire- Musée de Louvre, Paris, FR). 


Summary of Select Projects 2014 - 2016