We are constantly looking for ways to improve our communities. A local woman is taking action with her paint brush. She believes art can inspire kids in our area and help keep them out of trouble.

The front room of Marley Billie D's south city home is her gallery.

“I like to be one with the Earth, so I can create for the people,” she said.

The work reflects on her life. Instead of family pictures in a photo album, she puts them on canvas.

"I'm doing my mom's hair in this painting in my grandma's kitchen," she explained. "I grew up where family was everything."

Adopted as an infant, it was her mom who opened her eyes and imagination to possibilities in art.

“My mom made sure I was exposed to everything."

It is now her mission to bring the virtues of art to others.

"I just feel like black kids are told to turn off things so much that they can’t express themselves," she said.

But she thinks art can make a difference.

"More than ever. It's a way of expression. If they don't express themselves they are going to lose their minds.”

She knows firs- hand what it's like.

“I feel like your art is kinda whatever you’re going through. I'm very depressed if I'm not creating."

She's helping kids by working with the ArtReach program at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. She also teaches at Vashon High School, Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls and the Boys & Girls Club.

But to her it doesn't seem like enough.

"I just want to do more."
Art isn't just about painting to her. It's life and life-lessons.

“I think it’s what makes a person.”

Things Marley Billie D is hoping to teach others one stroke at time, to give them an emotional release and a focus.

“Don’t stop creating cause once you stop creating you let it win.”

If you would like to learn more about the ArtReach program you can contact the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.