Line 4 Line, a community outreach program of LSU Museum of Art’s Neighborhood Arts Project, began in December 2014 as an innovative partnership between the museum and Baton Rouge barber O’Neil Curtis. To date, the program has served more than 160 boys, fostering and strengthening literacy, creating positive attitudes towards books, providing relatable role models and getting great free books into the hands of children. In addition to haircuts, books and food, Line 4 Line also includes hands-on art making facilitated by LSU Museum of Art’s Neighborhood Arts Project Teen Art Mentors.
The Line 4 Line exhibition, curated by artist and art historian Meg Holford, features over 40 photographs celebrating this unique community partnership to make a difference in the lives of young boys in Baton Rouge. The photo project began in February 2016 with LSU Graduate Student Tania Inniss taking portraits of the boys’ post-haircut and Simone Schmidt photographing the program in action. The exhibit is currently on display at Family and Youth Service Center.
“These first photos were powerful and simply beautiful, seeing boys of all ages seated in chairs reading, while the barbers were clipping away, bending in to listen to the kids read, seeing kids helping each other decode words and then seeing portraits of the boys beaming post-haircut—it truly was magical,” explained Lucy Perera, LSU Museum of Art Coordinator of School & Community Programs. “It became obvious that we needed to continue documenting the program so we had the evidence to show the simple success of this type of program—the exhibition is just a way to continue to get the word out and to recognize the many people involved in the program. This exhibition provides a peek into Line 4 Line and honors barber O’Neil Curtis, co-founder and his four barbers Cedric Dent, Lloyd Oliver, Ramon Johnson and Todd Edwards all of whom volunteer to come to the shop on their day off to cut hair and be true role models for the kids.”
“There is a lot of potential with this program, it just takes new minds coming together from different backgrounds and perspectives. It’s all about the kids, making them feel special and letting them know we care. If we can show some of these kids that we care about them, I think we can change their lives,” explained O’Neil Curtis, a graduate from Glen Oaks High and an advocate for reading and taking time with kids.
The Line 4 Line program continues the first Monday of each month at O’Neil’s Barber & Beauty Salon, 449 North Acadian. Thanks to St. Aloysius Catholic School for the books, LSU Glassell Gallery and LSU Graduate Student Office of Design for assistance with the exhibition.
If you or your organization would like to help ensure the program's continued success, please visit www.lsufoundation.org/GiveToLSUMOA.