Working collaboratively, students from AR201 Introduction to Painting and AR401 Experimental Drawing: Abstraction classes at Gordon designed an installation for the two storefront window cases at the Lynn Community Minority Cultural Center (CMCC), located in Lynn, Massachusetts. The installation features six hinged panels in each window case, with a grid of over 90 images displayed in a quilted pattern. Each one-foot-square image expresses a different aspect of the diverse ethnicities and architectural sites of the community and celebrates the work the CMCC has done in Lynn, placing its work within the larger context of the Civil Rights Movement. The panels were presented to the community at an unveiling on December 15th, 2006.
Tanja Butler, associate professor of art, noted that this opportunity to engage in art projects for public spaces is a valuable part of an undergraduate education. "At Gordon we encourage our students to consider the broader social function of art," she stated. "A number of our courses include projects created in collaboration with community organizations. Art students are often involved in internships and ministries, using their artistic gifts in community settings."
I never did a collaborative art project before, and it was quite a learning experience for me. But the product turned out well, and I felt blessed to have witnessed all the joy in people's faces when they saw it. It reminded me of why we do art--not only for ourselves but for others as well.
PIctured is a preliminary sketch for the mural, featuring Virginia Barton, a noted activist in the Lynn community.
In the beginning of this project some of us were concerned about how all the different panels would come together with everyone's different painting styles, and images. However, as we continued painting we began to see how perfect this was for Lynn--for it is everyone's different experiences, stories, cultures and diversity that make this city so rich and unique.
It is our prayer that everyone who looks at this mural will somehow be "moved". Whether someone will see "Hope" and be encouraged, or someone will see Martin Luther King and be empowered, or someone will see pieces of their home, culture, or story and be reminded that these are not things that they left behind in a different country or things to be forgotten, but that these things are what make this city such a strong community. The Minority Cultural Center has been a blessing to many in so many ways for years, and this is why it has been such an incredible honor and privilege for us to be able to give this gift and for us, too, to become a part of all who pass by its windows or enters its doors.
Working on a project for someone else was a great way to cap off everything we had learned over the semester. It gave the project new levels of meaning and professionalism, and helped illustrate what art can contribute to society.
I felt so honored to be a part of this project. It was exciting to learn about the cultural diversity in Lynn, and to explore ways of representing the themes of the CMCC. To see all of our hard work coming together and making an impact was truly inspirational.
It took a lot of patience and energy during the planning process, although once we were painting together the joy of this project really presented itself. The best part is that the celebration did not end with us, but continues in the Lynn community.
Creating this installation was rewarding on multiple levels. I enjoyed sharing my work with the community of Lynn on an individual level, while working with my peers to project a greater message...of hope, legacy, and justice among many others. Using art to communicate to the greater community was an experience I will never forget.
I enjoyed working on a collaborative art piece that was going to make a difference. So much planning went into it, and we all had our own little piece--it was amazing to see how it all came together in the end.
Coming together to create this mural, we struggled to meld diverse ideas, yet out of our many view points flowed an abundance of creativity. The more I researched the community, the more engaged I became with the richness of our subject matter, and as the last weekend rolled around excitement was high as we worked on this project with a fervor, demonstrating that this meant much more than earning a grade. In being able to give my art to others, art has taken on a whole new depth of beauty and meaning. As the mural came together into a beautiful whole, all of the prayers over the entire semester seemed to have culminated into a visual prayer--a prayer of peace, justice and equality over Lynn.
Mrs. Barton was present at the unveiling, wreathed in smiles.
You learn something in the creation of every piece. This piece was no exception. But the kinds of things I learned and the way that I learned them are what I remember most and am so thankful for about this project. In terms of technical skills, I learned a little better how orange looks next to blue, and how to hold my brush steady while painting a thin line. And while it is true that those are important things, I'm most thankful for what I learned about community--about listening, about speaking, about effort, about pain, about being patient with others and honest with myself.