The Young Men of Life Pieces to Masterpieces Share How “The Washingtonian” Inspired Them

Participants of the art program stopped by the office today with a special gift for publisher Cathy Merrill Williams.

By: Leslie Milk

Life Pieces to Masterpieces, an art program that changes the lives of young men in DC’s Ward 7, presented a painting to Washingtonian publisher Cathy Merrill Williams today, to thank the magazine for helping the program grow.

Mary Brown, cofounder of Life Pieces, was named a Washingtonian of the Year in 2010. "Young black men grow up in the belly of hell,” she said. “We teach them that obstacles can be opportunities.”

The Washingtonians of the Year Award proved to be an opportunity for LPTM to expand its work and strengthen its base. After the story about Brown appeared in the January 2011 issue of The Washingtonian, the program received a personal contribution from the Obamas.

Since then, Brown has launched a corporate art program that enables local businesses to purchase or lease art works created by the young men. The organization’s revenue doubled in one year, and more DC schools have asked to partner with LPTM to replicate the program.

The painting wasn’t the only gift LPTM presented to The Washingtonian. The older participants wrote a poem about seeing their work in the magazine:

They tell me that I’m not smart enough.

They tell me that I’m not cute enough.

They tell me, “You gonna end up just like your father.”

My father is dead.

They tell me I “can’t.”

They tell me I won’t amount to anything.

They tell me I’m ugly, violent, to be feared.

Well, today I saw my picture in an important magazine.

You know, one of those magazines men dressed in shirts, ties, and jackets read on the Red Line?

I saw “ME!”

They call it “The Washingtonian”!

So . . . I guess, they are talking about “ME” because I was born in DC General and grew up in Northeast!

Yeah . . . “The Washingtonian”!

All of a sudden what “THEY” say don’t matter anymore!

I am beautiful! I am strong! I am smart! I can do anything, be anything I WANT to be!

. . . and you know why?

Well . . . look RIGHT here! I am a WASHINGTONIAN,

“A part of a MASTERPIECE”!