Direct Message

Direct Message.teen art exhibition
Direct Message
Thas it, right there
That goin' be the name, direct message right there
Box that one, that's the name
Who like Direct Message? Raise yo hand!
How you goin' say it?
Black lives matter
Cuz look, we got a message, and it's gonna be direct
We sendin' a message to show how people can come together and work on a project and get it done
There we go, yeah!
It's a direct message to society of the misconception that they have on us young black minorities

Looking at teen exhibit from outside Central Library's main entrance.

Exhibition was on display at Madison's Central Library, May-August 2016.  [SEE MAP]

  • Daytime: larger than life power pose exhibit outside of the main entrance.
  • Nighttime: shadow projection show on the outside of the 2nd Floor windows, above the main entrance.
  • Listen to Faisal Abdu'Allah discuss the project on Madison's local WORT 8 O'CLOCK BUZZ.


Direct Message was an exhibit created by teens through Madison Public Library's Bubbler program, which tapped community resources to foster this 15-week project in hands-on, peer-supported learning and digital literacy. Bubbler teens were addressing the nation's widest black/white educational opportunity gap and highest per capita black juvenile arrest and incarceration rate in Dane County, Wisconsin, with this semester-long project allowing them to explore and redefine their own public image.


Thank you FAISAL ABDU'ALLAH and the many other artists, educators and activists who have made this exhibit possible, including:

Johanna Boyle
Rob Dz
Kay DeWaide
Matt Feifarek
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Dana Johnson
Richard Jones
Just Bakery
Madison Graphics
Claire Mason
Morgridge Center for Public Service
Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment
Nazka Serrano
Meg Sill
UW-Madison School of Library & Information Studies
Manon van de Water
Albert Watson
Jeremy Wineberg
Orion Wells

Projected on white paper draped over the two 8ft windows that create the 2nd Floor corner jutting over the corner of Mifflin and Fairchild, this exhibit was only visible during the night and Madison's Central Library looked to have a live teen performance every evening during the summer of 2016.


KO says:

It was cool.

KO portrait cropped
KO portrait cropped
I thought this was gonna be lame, but it wasn’t. It was cool. Cooler than I thought it was gonna be.


KO Pose
Chillin' at the Central Library teen section

KO Silhouette Sketch
Tracing a photograph for an exhibition mock up


KO and Bossz brown paper silhouette
Brown paper silhouettes, KO and Bossz

KO portrait

Finesse says:

There's more to us...

Finesse portrait cropped
Finesse portrait cropped

Direct Message is literally a direct message to all the people with the misconception of us minorities and the stereotypical perceptions and how people portray us. There's more to us ... And you know, people don’t really try to go in too deep into why we do this or why we do that. How we act. You know, why we act the way we act. Where we come from. People just go based off what they see when truly they really don’t know. And I just feel like Direct Message is a way for us to have our voice be heard.

Finesse's silhouette
We are the targets that you always reach to aim,
we are the problems that you’re always quick to blame
but why us aren’t we all the same
see life’s a system and we’re just part of the game
but we gotta learn to sustain and turn this pain into gain
because everybody’s killing everybody
so how many of us will remain?

They don’t want my people here
that’s why they treat us unfair,
police suppose to protect and serve but when it comes to us
truly they don’t care.

They criminalize the blacks
Frame us off statistics
but are those truly the facts?
They just know us by our color
but it’s deeper than that.
But society keep at it
 I don’t expect a change
it’s just crazy how you say that we’re the ones to blame.

Finesse directing silhouettes
Choreographing the moving silhouettes

Finesse brown paper silhouette
Brown paper silhouette, Finesse

Star says:

I got talent.

Star slider image
Star slider image
I got talent. I sing and that's my talent.

Star sings at Central Library
Singing at Central Library

Star Silhouette 1

Star Silhouette 2
Creating silhouettes in Faisal Abdu'Allah's studio

Star portrait
Slider of Teen known as unknown
Slider of Teen known as unknown


Unknown portrait