The Role of the Artist as Peacemaker in Community Based Art
Since the dawn of the human condition, people have wanted to show the values of their particular groups by visually expressing themselves. From the earliest moments of history these expressions started as images on a wall. The art form was pretty much unchanged in execution until Aug. of 1967, when 21 artists collaborated with the Wall of Respect in Chicago. There, for the first time was a visual art piece that united a neighborhood, and informed people about the common ground they all shared.
Since then the process of creating these ‘neighborhood murals’ have brought together whole neighborhoods, and maintained a format for the community dialogue to continue. Bro. Mark’s lecture will retrace the history of this movement in America. He will bring out specific examples of how the artists brought peace to these same neighborhoods through Art. Lastly, Bro. Mark will review the process as to how the artist works with a community to promote the common ground and peace
Bro. Mark Elder, cm (aka Buffalo Bro) is an Instructor of Art at DePaul University in Chicago. He holds two postgraduate degrees (both in painting), but started out with a Physical Education degree from his alma mater, DePaul Univ. Even though he enjoyed coaching and teaching at the High School level, Bro. Mark felt that the Spirit was calling him to higher work through the Visual Arts. Which is why he started Art School at 35 years of age.
Today at 57, and born in 1953 in Quantico VA, Bro. Mark has several public murals to his credit. Having one in Rome, and a few scattered around the Midwest, We Are DePaul 2 (which can be seen from the Fullerton ‘L’ stop. ) is one of four murals that Bro. Mark has done in Chicago. You can view more of Bro. Mark’s artwork at http://www.condor.depaul.edu/~melder.
Kent Koth Director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement & Seattle University Youth Initiative, came to our class to talk about the goals of the Youth Initiative.
Today in class, Kent Koth presented to our class the goals and inspiration behind the Seattle University Youth Initiative. He provided us with much needed information regarding the nature of our mural project and the initiative as a whole. As we come to a completed design, we are asking ourselves, “What is the message we are sending with this mural? What is our service?”
As a pilot project, there is no precedent to base our procedure on. As Kent noted, we are serving the micro community of Bailey Gatzert but also the larger communities surrounding the school. With my background in photography, I thought it would be helpful to showcase the many types of housing in the neighborhood. Since we plan on including architecture in our final design, I thought it essential that we include buildings that kids would recognize. The pictures above represent textures, patterns, and buildings that I hope will provide inspiration in the design process.
On Monday, April 11, we started to build our canvases for the mural; we had a faculty member, Chris Carlson, come to the class and explain the building process. Chris helped us to build the canvases and after building 7 canvases we painting them with Gesso paint. This paint insures that the mural will last longer in the elements compared to if they were not protected.
Now we are in the process of planning the mural design and soon we will be drawing and painting the mural!
On Monday we took a mural tour of Seattle, spending times at sites in the Central District, Colombia City, and Sodo.
We saw quite a few different murals with many different motifs. We observed a liberation mural, Chief Seattle diversity mural, Latino pride mural, as well as several painted by a youth service program.
Some more pictures of students drawing some of the things they would like to see on the new mural.
© Catherine Williams
This week, we visited students in kindergarten through fifth grade art classes. They were asked questions such as, “What do you like about school?” They responded with words and pictures on hundreds of sheets of paper, which now cover our classroom walls.
© Andy Vanderbilt