26 June 2009

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Journal Entry #1 – “Juicy Definitions”
Monday: June 22nd, 2009

If I had to sum up today’s experience in one word, it would be: participation.

Led by the enthusiastic and infectious Kristina Berdan, our day was filled with a constant stream of participatory activity. Throughout the week, we are working in class with our high school interns—a group of highly motivated students from around Baltimore, who secure paying summer jobs through YouthWorks.

We began the day with an art-making experience, building a “symbolic accessory”. This piece was to tell our “story”. We would break into pairs to share our story, eventually presenting to the class our partner’s story.

As the day continued, we broke into several groups of 3 or 4 to dialogue about what community art means. Words appeared consistently in conversations; words like: energy, visionary, mentoring, connections, facilitate, trust, fun, diversity, gratifying, and empathy. Each group used a selection of words as a group-formed definition of community arts. Our group’s definition was: MENTORS USE ACTON PLANS TO FACILITATE CONNECTIONS IN COMMUNITY THROUGH ARTISTIC EXPRESSION, IDEAS, AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY.

To round out the day, we heard 3 artist presentations from MACA faculty: Fletcher Mackey, Cinder Hypki, and Paula Phillips. Collectively these presenters were powerful, passionate, inspiring, engaging, and committed to community.

One of our many goals as community artists is to be inspiring to the youth and adults we work with. Being inspiring is a big deal—there is a lot of power in inspiration. Or, maybe, it’s pressure. Or, maybe, it’s both: power and pressure.

Immediately I realized I was not in Austin anymore, and I felt the excitement of the challenge that lies ahead.

Journal Entry #2 – Elevator Speeches
Tuesday: June 23, 2009

Today started with an art-making activity where each group created a movie poster to advertise their summer art camp. My group created a poster about space, entitled Art Odyssey 2009. Each member of our group was featured as a caricature of themselves in some sort of space suit representing their artwork. Mine had jet-propelled cakes for feet!

After lunch, we problem-solved about possible discipline issues we might encounter with the youth at our summer sites, and how it might look to respond appropriately. It’s refreshing to know that we will have four trained mentors working at each site!

Elevator speeches started at 330pm. I have a proven history of public panic. So, the afternoon and evening became a blur of sweaty nervousness. Professor Ken Krafchek had each of us give our 2-minute presentation twice, while riding the elevator with 6 high school interns. Our final presentation was presented to a room full of excited summer site participants: interns, supervisors, MACA faculty, and Americorps representatives.


As I begin to realize my position as a community artist, my fears are laid to rest and my potential becomes evident. Can one person make a difference, with art? Absolutely. This evening our class had the pleasure of meeting with eight community organizations that emulate this theory.

Most of these organizations were very small, neighborhood entities. Some of them were completely volunteer-run, or started by parents who saw a need. All of these organizations had passion and heart: a real drive to see youth – furthermore, their community – succeed using art as a vessel or tool.

I cannot explain the surge of emotions that come to the surface as a community leader explains the effect art and art making has had on a young person in their organization. It’s over-whelming, encouraging, and the absolute reason I am in graduate school for community arts.

I hope to be an inspiration and guiding friend to the youth at my summer site. 3 more days until this transformative experience begins.

Journal Entry #3 – Reactions
Wednesday: June 24th, 2009

Hi All,

I posed a question at the end of today’s class...

I would like to share my answer to my own question!

Floating above the matching process, a process embedded in real time and space, I see 16 courageous souls stand tall and proud and claim to the imperfect, chaotic world that they possess a vision of a very special place of harmony, equity, creativity and love. I see these now emerging leaders step outside the comforts of communal norms in order to build a more perfect (if imperfect) world. I see real artists claiming their true destiny.

So, any reactions...?

-- Ken


Hi Ken,

Floating above the matching process, I see a variety of personalities and art makers wishing for a better world in which to live. Through collaboration, process, exchange, and dialogue, we will each partake on a new journey and experience. Together we will speed through 13 months full of potential, creativity, hope, and a little bit of crazy.


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