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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Jamil Steele inspires communities through art and mentoring
CMS teacher reaches out to students
Published Wednesday, May 11, 2016 11:29 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Jamil Steele, an art teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, has created works at  galleries and displays across the county. One of his projects is “Charlotte Past and Present,” a mural on Beatties Ford Road that tells the history of West End.

Pursue passion, not just a paycheck.

After teaching art for 11 years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Jamil Steele continues to show students that art can provide a career path if they want to pursue it.

“I try to express to them that art is a visual language, and that we all have a voice in that world. We all have to tell the story that we know,” he said. “It encompasses all of us. It’s not just one story or one person. It’s just like writing and music. We all have a place there if we want to be there.”  

From featuring his work at the Art House in NoDa to Festival in the Park, Spirit Square, and Art Institute of Charlotte, Steele also participated in the production of “Charlotte Past, Present and Future,” a mural at 508 Beatties Ford Road that tells the story of Historic West End.

“We wanted to capture the essence of the community—capture what the Historic West End is about,” Steele said.

A graduate of West Charlotte High School with an undergraduate degree in fine arts and illustration from UNC Charlotte and a master’s in art education from Winthrop University, Steele has seen countless individuals abandon their passion for creativity for the idea of financial security in a more traditional trade.  

“I try to encourage them to [follow their dreams], because I want to see them do great things in their own personal development and growth,” he said. “Even if they don’t choose to be an artist, they will have an appreciation for the arts. I think a lot of times some people have not been exposed enough to art to have an appreciation for it, or to see how much of an impact it has on life.”  

As a teacher at Shamrock Gardens Elementary School, Steele strives to show his students how art touches their daily lives.

“Every year, I start off by asking students to name what they know about art, and then I ask them to name a place where they don’t come into contact with art,” Steele said. “At first they don’t realize how much they come into contact with it—through fashion, cars, architecture.”

For more information: http://www.dyairart.com/#!about/c240r

Ashley Mahoney on Twitter:



This man is my ultimate inspiration, my heart, my role model, my big brother. The best anyone can ask for. I am grateful and honored. Reading this I am so proud of you and how committed and true you stayed to yourself and who you are. So happy your dreams coming true
Posted on May 15, 2016

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