Public Art Take Back!
Loreto Paz Ansaldo
This project addressed Urbano’s current theme of “The Commons: Space, Place & Public” by centering on the youth artists to define for themselves how they fit in and engage their local community.
In Public Art Take Back! (Spring term) participants created self-directed, multi-media performative public cultural plans to address root causes of gentrification and how these manifest in Egleston Square. The workshops engaged various media, each group visioned, planned, created and presented a three-component cultural plan: a model of a public art object; an interactive performative intervention; and an action plan by which youth apply their agency as artist-citizens through participation in civic government.
How can youth be agents of change?
In the second part of the project (Fall term), the youth artists believed in cultivating love, resilience and activation to resist adversity and build the communities they envision. Expanding upon discussions about stakeholders and “why do we bother?,” the youth artists developed their outdoor public art event as a way to use participatory arts to address themes of most concern to them: Violence, Taking care of children, Adults learning to play again, Affordable housing, Getting to know our neighbors, Cleaning our streets.
The youth artists invited friends, family and neighbors to engage in interactive art activities. These activities centered around specific skills the youth artists learned with the teaching artists: Percussion-based music exploring unconventional objects with Reyna; and movement, theater, Kalaripayattu (an ancient martial art), healing and meditation with Pradhuman. The youth artists also led the entire event production process, facilitated by Loreto. The youth artists explored issues around and carried out the following: goal setting and timelines; outreach and marketing (including writing copy, designing a flyer, creating a social media strategy and securing appearances on local television and radio); location search and selection; choosing and obtaining food; and identifying other important aspects of the event to ensure their goals were met and themes addressed, such as including an open mic, an opportunity for making a group art product and community building games.
The big theme of our project was unity and community, and both relate to the public coming together to create something bigger. We collaborated to achieve our event. We gathered youth artists to find activities that are beneficial to members of our community. Our event connected the local social network, and people participated.