MY ART STORY by

Steven T. Licardi

Long Island
New York

licardi-on-stage.jpg

Tall young man giving a solo peotry performance on a small stage

Performing at Stony Brook University for a suicide prevention showcase. Video courtesy of Steven T. Licardi

I discovered art at a very early age, a revelation which became more of a saving grace than a hobby. As a child, I was diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), an autism spectrum disorder, which manifested in a unique a peculiar way. It was determined that my emotional age was maturing at a slower rate than my mental age. This meant that I could not emotionally comprehend my own cognitions - it was as if someone else’s thoughts were stuck inside my head. They didn’t feel like mine.

Under the guidance of Sharon Lippman, director of Art Without Walls, Inc., a nonprofit, independent arts and health organization, I was able to externalize my internal experiences, to better understand myself and the world around me. As I matured, I took my experiences with me, eventually graduating from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in psychology and philosophy, continuously looking to the arts for inspiration and vision.

Today, I am a prominent New York-based spoken word poet, author of Death By Active Movement (Local Gems Press, 2013), motivational speaker, actor, multimedia artist, and activist fighting for the arts as an ally. I have used the medium of poetry and performance to foster advocacy among veterans, the LGBTQ community, those with developmental disabilities, those living with mental illness, at-risk youth, the homeless, drug addiction, climate change, economic equality, social inequity, and in the fight for basic human rights.

As a social work student in the School of Social Welfare, I endeavor to integrate the use of performance art and expression as a powerful and successful tool in positively affecting policy making and the political process. Through all forms of art, I believe humanity can create a more sustainable, beneficent, progressive, and thriving world.

My passion for the arts lies in my view that they can be therapeutic. The arts can help individuals to cope, overcome, and empower themselves to change their life and the lives of those around them. For me, art is the ultimate embodiment of empathy; it teaches us altruism and selflessness. In my work and my performances, I strive to educate communities on how to heal, how to organize, and how to love without fear. Through the arts’ ability to illustrate and to help people to feel as others do, I hope to teach humanity compassion, kindness, and how to see the beauty in all things. I carry this passion with me every single day of my life in an attempt to embody everything that the arts can be and what we can be as empowered human beings.

The arts have helped me to understand myself, to find confidence in my abilities, to learn how to love myself, and to see the power that exists within us all. Now it is my turn to give back, to pay it forward. If I can cultivate the same relationship I have with the arts in others, than I feel as though I have done my duty to mankind and to the planet.

Steven T. Licardi performing "The Curse Mentality".