Unlike a painting in a gallery or museum, murals make a claim to public space and attention. Murals have been used to make space for silenced stories and histories while encouraging participation from marginalized communities in shaping public space. Murals and other forms of public art also raise urgent questions: Who counts as “the public” and who is excluded? What demands can be made on public spaces whose uses have traditionally been decided by institutions that are unresponsive to the needs and experiences of historically marginalized communities? Whose experiences do public artists represent? Whose stories do they tell?
This one-quarter program will invite us to raise these questions about our own Evergreen community by creating a mural focused on Evergreen’s marginalized histories. Evergreen was founded with a vision of liberatory education where students, faculty and staff would explore the linkages between theory and practice and learn to do so “across significant differences.” Yet, since the earliest days of the college, the issue of “differences” has challenged us as community members and as a college. While we’ve taken some steps towards inclusion and equity, this process is incomplete. In this program we will learn about histories of struggle for equity at Evergreen through research in the library archives, facilitated by Evergreen archivist Liza Harrell-Edge. We will then use that research as foundation for creating a mural on campus, facilitated by artist and Evergreen alum Patricia Vázquez Gómez. Video documentation and creative writing workshops will allow students to build skills for documenting and deepening our process. Through archival research, storytelling, documentation, and community-based art practices, our program’s mural project aims to connect past struggles with present efforts, construct a sense of shared history, and open spaces for imagining just futures for our community.
In order to build a foundation for our own public arts practice, we will learn about public arts projects used to tell stories that have been erased or ignored. We will read about archival practices and projects and study examples public art from across the Americas. We will examine projects like the Wall of Respect in Chicago and The Great Wall of Los Angeles; graffiti and poster art used during recent protests in Chile and Colombia; and Suzanne Lacey’s community performances/videos. At the same time, we will have a chance to explore our roots as individuals and as a community, and link our stories to the histories of hope and struggle that we are learning about. Our program will unearth and develop a set of intertwined narratives that celebrate the stories of women, people of color, working class folks, and LGBTQI+ people at Evergreen and beyond. What was it like for them/us? What were their/our struggles? What did they/we hope for? How can we relate to their experiences, and what can we learn from them?
The 12-credit program core will include an introduction to public arts through readings, lectures, and seminars, dialogues with community members, and research in the Evergreen archives. Students will also have the chance to choose between media or creative writing workshops to deepen skills in documentary video or documentary poetics/personal narrative. The 16 credit version of this program will include a 4-credit module for independent projects: students in this module can deepen explorations in the program core through projects in a variety of media, or by helping to expand the reach of the mural. Visual arts, poetry, spoken word performance, video documentary, research, storytelling, collaborative projects, and website development are all possible options for independent projects. Students in this program will develop skills in community-based art projects, archival research, video documentation, and creative writing while developing knowledge about public arts projects across the Americas.
Course Reference Numbers
Arts, community studies, community organizing, participatory research
$50 required media fee
|2022-03-01||$50 required media fee added|