PURPOSE: To Create a Public Art Installation exhibiting the future our students envision for themselves and for our community.
MAJOR TAKEAWAY: The power of vision casting to "rehearse our future" and be transformed today.
Summer 2011 - Philadelphia, PA
Each year at Orange Korner Arts we would choose a theme that the art classes and exhibitions would explore. In 2010-11, our theme was Imma Be - The Future Me! This theme came from a desire to spark hope for a positive future in our youth. Hope can be a powerful tool; if you believe that you have a future, you can make changes today that make that future possible. Many of our youth growing up in north Philadelphia struggle to envision a positive future for themselves. Exploring this theme provided an opportunity for us to intentionally speak hope into their lives and for them actively participate in casting their own vision for their future.
Our theme was incorporated into all of the artistic mediums taught that year. The name played off the popular song Imma Be by the Black Eyed Peas. Our Music Production students wrote their own lyrics to the song and performed this version at the show.
At Orange Korner Arts, we posted a chalkboard that said “Imma Be…” and throughout the year our youth wrote words answering these questions: Who to you want to be in the future? What careers interest you? What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? We collected all of their words and compiled a list of over 60 possible futures. We then conducted a survey and had the youth, teaching artists, and staff at OKA vote on their top ten words.
Our Graphic Design students took these top ten words and created a symbol to represent each word. The result was a visual expression of our hope for our future.
Our Wearable Design students created silkscreens for each of the symbols. For our spring exhibition, we got t-shirts for the show and we each chose two of the symbols to be printed on the back of our our shirts. Our students had fun “wearing” their own hopes for their future and explaining the project to all at the show. Then I wanted to take the project one step further.
We decided during the summer of 2011 to extend the impact of our hopes for our future to the entire community and do an installation of our symbols in our local park. One purpose of our summer Oaks of OKA youth program is to teach youth job and life skills by exploring a new artistic medium. We chose that summer to teach sewing.
After obtaining permission from the city of Philadelphia and receiving a small grant, we borrowed a bunch of sewing machines, we created ten colorful banners depicting our symbols which were installed throughout our local public park and hung for three months.
We hosted an dedication service at our local after school program with other members of our community and local churches. Our teens presented the ImmaBe Banner project and challenged over 60 children ranging from K-5th grades to begin to formulate and articulate their own hope and dreams for their future. They led the group on a walking tour through the park to admire the banners.
Our Videography students also released a set of short videos to accompany the installation. (Click the index in the upper left-hand corner to see all 10.)
This project gave our youth the opportunity to “rehearse the future” as they actually BECAME what their symbols represented by expressing their personal vision as well as inspiring a community by casting a collective positive vision for WHO our community can become.