Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
After the stint at the detention centre, it was time to return to the SCC to work with a group of young people on the "Artist and Kids" programme. This programme is well established within the SCC and I taught on it last year, which was great fun. One of last year's students even signed up to take my main adults' workshop this year! This year, the approach was slightly different and instead of tackling ideas about using found materials as jewellery as a primary objective, we looked at repeating the project that I had done with the young people in the detention centre with this group with a view to exhibiting some of this work as part of the "Enough Violence" show.
The "Enough Violence" show is going to be phenomenal: during my time in Pittsburgh, I was lucky enough to meet with Rolf and Marta Loeber, the academics from the Unversity of Pittsburgh who came up with the original idea for the show. Their own research is based around a long-term longitudinal study of inner-city young people, starting in 1987. They discovered that of 4000 people in the study, 6% of them had either been murdered or had been convicted of murder, horrific numbers by any standard. As supporters of the arts, they decided to approach the SCC with a view to creating an exhibition tackling this difficult subject. Rolf and Marta are passionate about their subject, witty, worldly and refreshingly frank. There is no glory or pretentiousness about their aims, just an honest desire to make a difference, to make people aware of what is going on around them.
The young people in the "Artist and Kids" workshop - which I ran with able assistance from Gerry Florida and Sarah Loch-Test, to whom I am very grateful - were very different in their approaches to those in the detention centre. We started off making general "mood boxes" which reflected their own approaches to decoration and life.
Getting them to tackle the ideas around "violence" was something of a challenge and they seemed reluctant to discuss it. Most of them were either afraid of the topic or had no experience of it. We talked about it in very general ways and we discussed what they thought constituted "violence". It was fascinating to see how they changed when they realised that from seeing it on television to knowing that they were being bullied, they also had experienced this very scary idea. After this, they opened up and started to make work directly related to the brief.
My own favourite was this pair of tins, made by friends, who wanted to say that if you are positive and stick with your friends, you can beat bullying in school:
Gerry Florida and I also made some tins but I forgot to photograph mine, which is annoying as I made it so that it lights up!
After this, it was time to prepare for my adults' class, "Secrets and Surprises".