Plant 2015 at Jack Block Park, from Artist Jordan West Monez

4Culture

Jordan West Monez is a multi-disciplinary designer who received funding through our Historic Site Specific program – below, Jordan shares more about her project. In 2016, the Site Specific program will be tech-focused – the deadline to apply is October 15, 2015. 

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Plant2015_installJordan West Monez is a multi-disciplinary designer who received funding through our Historic Site Specific program – below, Jordan shares more about her project. In 2016, the Site Specific program will be tech-focused – the deadline to apply is October 15, 2015. 

Plant 2015 has been installed at the Port of Seattle’s Jack Block Park and at Boeing Plant 2 as part of Duwamish Revealed, a multi-media celebration of the Duwamish River. Plant 2015 re-creates a series of sculptural trees inspired by the artificial suburban landscape built on Boeing’s Plant 2 during World War II. The scale model of the suburban fabric was built to camouflage the factory from the air and was decommissioned shortly after the war. Plant 2015 draws on this history to focus attention on the duality of nature and culture on the river and focus attention on what has been and is now concealed along the Duwamish River.

As Seattle’s only river, the heavily industrialized Duwamish holds layers of history and meaning, people and culture, contamination and habitat. The Lower Duwamish Waterway was recently named a USEPA Superfund Site and the cleanup process is underway. Boeing Plant 2 was recently demolished and the shoreline restored to remove polluted sediment and create wildlife habitat. Plant 2015 layers a past history onto the present landscape to remind us of how quickly things can change to alter a place.

A gathering to celebrate Plant 2015 is planned for Saturday, August 15 at Jack Block Park, and the project is currently visible to the public at Jack Block Park and at Boeing Plant 2 on the southeast side of the South Park Bridge.

A Challenge from Artist Gabriela Denise Frank

Ugly Me by Gabriela Denise Frank © 2015 Courtesy of the Artist
Artist Gabriela Denise Frank as a young girl. © 2015 Courtesy of the Artist

Gabriela Denise Frank, is a multi-disciplinary artist whose current work focuses on topics including identity, family, self-image and aging. She is a 2014 and 2015 4Culture Art Projects recipient and we asked her to share a bit about her latest entitled, Ugly Me.

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Artist Gabriela Denise Frank as a young girl. © 2015 Courtesy of the Artist
Artist Gabriela Denise Frank as a young girl. © 2015 Courtesy of the Artist

Gabriela Denise Frank, is a multi-disciplinary artist whose current work focuses on topics including identity, family, self-image and aging. She is a 2014 and 2015 4Culture Art Projects recipient and we asked her to share a bit about her latest entitled, Ugly Me.

Summer is when we loosen up, let down our hair, and in that regard, I have embraced the summer of 2015 like no other. Earlier this month, I opened a multi-media sound installation called UGLY ME at Jack Straw New Media Gallery in which I’ve let fall all pretense and propriety —no hiding behind makeup or bulky winter clothing— in the hopes of exploring the relationship between appearance and self-worth.

The idea for UGLY ME came about in 2013 (more about that here) though my struggles with self-esteem and identity began decades before. Little did I know when I proposed the installation to 4Culture and Jack Straw that my quest for self-knowledge would lead into dark and funny places, that I would draw upon the slings and arrows of childhood as much as the fashion of the 70s, 80s and 90s which, even now, influences my (ahem) modern wardrobe? Fashion photography, large-scale collage, distorted selfies and twelve original prose poems recorded at Jack Straw come together to tell a larger story about the link between a person’s insides and her outsides.

In preparing for this Friday’s artist talk, I realized how the self-image we create as kids becomes deeply entrenched in our self-understanding as adults—and why we need people throughout our lives to remind us that we’re better than we think we are. UGLY ME teaches the importance of mentorship, especially for young people, as they take creative risks and embrace the unknown landscape of growth and maturity, both as humans and artists. We need boosters equally to nurture us and push us into uncomfortable territory; their encouragement helps to light alternate pathways that we might otherwise not have dared. These artist-mentors inspire our bravery, spark our curiosity, spur our sense of adventure. They are the electrons that trigger quantum leaps that change the world.

In a time when an arts career is equated with a shaky economic future, when financial security is considered more valuable than creativity—when we feel we have to compromise a stable life for doing what we love— I would challenge everyone to act now in order to create a different future. Talk to your children about their creative interests. Encourage them to pursue untrodden roads. Rather than squash the validity of a career in the arts, let young people play and explore; if you don’t know how, then connect them with resources like 4Culture who can help them grow.

Education is training for life, not only a paycheck. Challenge the young artists in your care to define how their art is relevant to the world even if you can’t. Over time, they will be able to tell you how learning to write stories and play music influenced the ingenuity they bring to everything else. We will thank them, and you, for it later.

The goal of living isn’t perfection or innumerable wealth; it’s not about avoiding failure, either. Life is about learning and art is means of reflection on that learning, a way to understand the universe and our role in it, a means of inspiring innovation in a multitude of fields.

At its best, art makes the world a bigger and more meaningful place; it connects us to each other. For projects like UGLY ME, then, the ultimate purpose of art is transformation—often in ways that we can’t foretell at the start. Like all summertime road trips, isn’t that part of the fun?

Ugly Me by Gabriela Denise Frank © 2015 Courtesy of the Artist
Ugly Me by Gabriela Denise Frank © 2015 Courtesy of the Artist

Artist talk this Friday, July 31 at 7 pm at Jack Straw Cultural Center.

UGLY ME Installation Dates

July 10 to August 14

Jack Straw Cultural Center

4261 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

FREE

For more information, www.gabrieladenisefrank.com and www.jackstraw.org

Otieno Terry on Creative Justice

Photo: Tim Aguero

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

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Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

Singer-songwriter, producer, and teaching artist, Otieno Terry, led the 2nd project session of our inaugural year of programming. Otieno believes that music strongly influences the minds of young people and uses his art to inspire positivity, self-confidence, discipline, and healing. From March 23rd through June 10th, he worked with 12 teen participants twice per week as they discovered the history of music in America and their own creative voices through instrumentation, vocalization, and writing.

Otieno Terry, Creative Justice Mentor Artist, Session 2, 2015. Photo: Tim Aguero
Otieno Terry, Creative Justice Mentor Artist, Session 2, 2015. Photo: Tim Aguero

Creative Justice Session 2 was a beautiful experience. Encompassing a large spectrum of emotions, the participants had an opportunity to build relationships and community through conversations about society and their perception of reality. We explored world history from different perspectives, focusing on the black experience, the transition from being African to becoming American, and how it affects us today. We talked about the importance of knowing the past and understanding the power of expression and its influence, particularly through music and social media.

The first few weeks of the session were somewhat quiet and cool, and at times awkward, as most things are in the world of teenagers. However, slowly but surely, their wisdom, talent, and youthfulness began to seep into the space we created together, through conversation, collaboration and improvisation. I started to realize how much potential every single student had, and even their circumstances couldn’t put out the flame of hope and joy that continues to burn honestly and unapologetically within.

When they began to record their work, I found that although their youthful flame burns brightly, joyfully and even carelessly at times, their art reflected their complexities and profound awareness of the world they are a part of. Through their honest expression, I now further understand the power of vulnerability, integrity and persistence. They are living proof that hope is real, that love is real, and that there is a warrior that lives in each of us, ready to fight for what we truly believe in.

I am incredibly grateful and honored to have spent such precious time with these students and in service of Creative Justice. It has strengthened my faith in our community, and I look forward to seeing the beauty and greatness that they will bless the world with going forward.

– Otieno Terry

Otieno Terry, Creative Justice Mentor Artist, Session 2, 2015. Photo: Tim Aguero
Otieno Terry, Creative Justice Mentor Artist, Session 2, 2015. Photo: Tim Aguero

A Local Odyssey of Epic Proportions

The World War II Odyssey of King County's Japanese Americans, educational supplement, 2014, courtesy of Newspapers In Education
The World War II Odyssey of King County's Japanese Americans, educational supplement, 2014, courtesy of Newspapers In Education
The World War II Odyssey of King County’s Japanese Americans, educational supplement, 2014, courtesy of Newspapers In Education

The Seattle Times Literacy Fund, Newspapers In Education program partnered with Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project to develop The World War II Odyssey of King County’s Japanese Americans, an eight-page full color educational supplement originally published in The Seattle Times on Sunday, April 12, 2015. The supplement tells the story of Japanese Americans’ involuntary migration during WWII, featuring the personal journeys of Akiko Kato, a 17-year-old student at Seattle’s Garfield High School, and Shosuke Sasaki, a 30-year-old Japanese immigrant raised and educated in the Seattle area. Densho has added digital components of this project to their website, including an interactive flipbook of the supplement, access to an online course for educators, historical videos and a bibliography.

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The World War II Odyssey of King County's Japanese Americans, educational supplement, 2014, courtesy of Newspapers In Education
The World War II Odyssey of King County’s Japanese Americans, educational supplement, 2014, courtesy of Newspapers In Education

The Seattle Times Literacy Fund, Newspapers In Education program partnered with Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project to develop The World War II Odyssey of King County’s Japanese Americans, an eight-page full color educational supplement originally published in The Seattle Times on Sunday, April 12, 2015. The supplement tells the story of Japanese Americans’ involuntary migration during WWII, featuring the personal journeys of Akiko Kato, a 17-year-old student at Seattle’s Garfield High School, and Shosuke Sasaki, a 30-year-old Japanese immigrant raised and educated in the Seattle area. Densho has added digital components of this project to their website, including an interactive flipbook of the supplement, access to an online course for educators, historical videos and a bibliography.

This project was partially funded through 4Culture’s Heritage Projects program. A PDF copy of the supplement is also available through seattletimes.com/nie or hard copies can be requested from The Seattle Times Newspapers In Education or Densho. Newspapers In Education is a free program offered to all classroom educators.

Poetry, Music and Love – on the bus at Folklife

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2015-Fest-Slider-Art

The Poetry on Buses Roadshow is on! We’re looking forward to the poetry reading + workshop coming up at Bellevue Library on May 9. The next stop: Folklife, the regional Memorial Day festival now in its 44th year. This year, Folklife is celebrating the cross-cultural roots of Hip Hop in the Northwest. 

Amos Miller, curator of music at Love City Love, will be on board the RapidRide Poetry Bus at Folklife. (He’s also the force behind a new album being celebrated at the The Triple Door on May 13 – congrats Amos!) In this guest post, he reflects on Love City Love and Poetry on Buses, and invites you to join the ride.

The nature of Love City Love is to create an all inclusive space where anyone can show their art, speak their mind or play their song. Personally, Love City Love has always been a prompt, a muse, an invitation to take my music seriously. After nine months of its existence, in June 2013, I committed to playing music at Love City Love on a weekly basis.

At first it was just me and some friends improvising every Wednesday. We invited anyone who came to share, play with us, sing with us, say a rap, spit a poem, do a dance, collaborate with the live music in whatever capacity they felt. What was just a few friends jamming quickly became a city-wide all-call open mic inviting everyone to perform. We have had three pop up locations and are currently looking for a permanent home.

Last November, 4Culture invited us to collaborate with poets from Poetry on Buses at the historic Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle. 36 poets jammed with Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, D’Vonne Lewis on drums, Ahamefule J. Olou on trumpet, Adra Boo and Otieno Terry on vocals, and me on the piano. This coalition of forces was powerful. It was an aligning of like-minded vibrations. The integrity, awareness and consciousness of everyone involved, from organizers to poets to instrumentalists, resonated out with fierce intensity. It was a compelling show, as over 800 people danced to the words of the people, and took in the rhythms of the city.

Thank you poets, for speaking your truths, and thank you Seattle for vibrating with love!

Amos Miller, Photo by Meg Stacker
Amos Miller, Photo by Meg Stacker

I’m writing today to invite you to come jam with us at Folklife on Saturday May 23rd on the RapidRide Poetry Bus that will be parked in the Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center.

Poetry on Buses poets will read their poems (in the bus!) at the top every hour from Noon to 5:00 PM. And then, at 5:00 PM Love City Love will perform in the bus for a full hour of poetry and music. Come collaborate with us!

You’re invited to join poet Michelle Peñaloza, 40 Poetry on Buses poets, and Love City Love on May 23rd. Love City Love also performs at the Folklife Mural Amphitheatre Stage that evening at 9:00 PM. See you at Folklife! 

 

 

Free Resource for Artists: Lynda.com

Tory Franklin , artist, teacher and collaborator, is currently working with sister Eroyn Franklin on a public artwork for Harborview in the form of digital designs for vinyl window graphics. 4Culture asked Tory to share information about a new (free) resource  available through the King County and Seattle Library systems.

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Lynda.com_BlogTory Franklin , artist, teacher and collaborator, is currently working with sister Eroyn Franklin on a public artwork for Harborview in the form of digital designs for vinyl window graphics. 4Culture asked Tory to share information about a new (free) resource  available through the King County and Seattle Library systems.

Artists today use technology extensively. Sometimes it’s getting together those smashing images for applications or crafting a website, or maybe you need to create files for a project with 3d printing or laser cutting. And you probably want to track what’s happening with your artwork in the world with some sort of business software. Unless you acquired some of these skills in school you’re probably asking your tech savvy friend (or even your kid) to help you muddle through it or just giving up and paying someone to make it close to what you want.

So what can you do besides plunking down a bunch of money to get those skills? You can sit in your pajamas with a nice cup of tea and enter the world of Lynda.com…for free. Thanks to our amazing regional libraries you can save the monthly fee. Both the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library offer a pass to most of the videos at Lynda. For those of you outside of the Seattle area you may belong to another organization that has access, ask your local library!

For the uninitiated Lynda is a website brimming with in-depth videos on virtually any software available that is constantly updated. They can be several hours long but you can save your spot and you can jump to different chapters. If you retain written information better, follow the transcript beside the video. Even if you’re running an older version of a program there’s a good chance you can search for videos on your version.

Lynda has separate libraries for 3D + Animation, Audio + Music, Business, CAD, Design, Developer, Education + Elearning, IT, Marketing, Photography, Video and Web. Each section is separated into Course Topics, Software and Resources. They’re also designated as Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Appropriate for All, so you don’t get too far in over your head. You can search for a topic or software and see where it takes you, and that cool video you find along the way but don’t want to get sidetracked – you can add it to your playlist for later.

Go to lynda.com and in the login is a section to log in through your organization. Put in the website of the library that you belong to (spl.org or kcls.org) and you will be directed to a new page that lets you put in your library card number and pin. Its as easy as checking out a ebook.

Advancing Collections Care

Fujitaro Kubota and family, Seattle © ca. 1930s, courtesy of Kubota Garden Foundation
Fujitaro Kubota and family, Seattle © ca. 1930s, courtesy of Kubota Garden Foundation

2015 Heritage Collections Care is Now Open

The grants application round for 4Culture’s 2015 Heritage Collections Care is now open. The deadline is Wednesday, June 24th at 5pm. This grant opportunity provides funding for the care and preservation of historical collections held in the public trust. Eligible applicants are nonprofit heritage and historical organizations, such as museums, archives, and public agencies located in King County that collect and preserve historical material.

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2015 Heritage Collections Care is Now Open

The grants application round for 4Culture’s 2015 Heritage Collections Care is now open. The deadline is Wednesday, June 24th at 5pm. This grant opportunity provides funding for the care and preservation of historical collections held in the public trust. Eligible applicants are nonprofit heritage and historical organizations, such as museums, archives, and public agencies located in King County that collect and preserve historical material.

Fujitaro Kubota and family, Seattle © ca. 1930s, courtesy of Kubota Garden Foundation
Fujitaro Kubota and family, Seattle © ca. 1930s, courtesy of Kubota Garden Foundation

Last year, the Kubota Garden Foundation was awarded a grant through this program to begin organizing, cataloging and digitizing garden records that span over 100 years. Begun by Fujitaro Kubota as a family business and demonstration garden, Kubota Garden is now a 20-acre City of Seattle park just south of Rainier Beach. The Foundation is responsible for maintaining hundreds of early records, photos and other memorabilia from the garden’s beginnings as a business to its present use as a park and historic garden.

The following is an update the Foundation shared with 4Culture about the progress of its first ever Collections Care award:

The Kubota Garden Foundation has established a professional archive to document the history of Kubota Garden. Under the leadership of Ernie Dornfeld, MLIS, Kubota Garden Foundation volunteer with extensive experience in large-scale archival cataloging and digitization projects, work began in fall of 2013 with a survey of records and needs for a historical collection.

The archive project’s central focus up to now has been on the Foundation’s photograph collection. Alyssa Enders, MLIS, hired as a contract Project Archivist, has cataloged and digitized nearly 1400 photographs dating from the early 1900s to the present. The exquisite and exciting images include Kubota family photographs, depictions of early land-clearing on the Garden’s site, the development and growth of demonstration gardens, and landscaping projects of the Kubota Gardening Company. Work has also included organization and indexing of documentary records about the Foundation’s history and the City of Seattle’s acquisition of the Kubota Garden site.

Archivist Alyssa Enders organization Kubota Garden Foundation records © 2015, courtesy of Kubota Garden Foundation
Archivist Alyssa Enders organization Kubota Garden Foundation records © 2015, courtesy of Kubota Garden Foundation

The Foundation plans to continue collecting photographs and other documents from the community illustrating how the Garden has been used over the years, which will supplement the existing records of how the site looked at various times in the past. Plans for future development of the archive include preservation and duplication of audio and video recordings, more work on the Foundation’s organizational records, and identification of records about the Garden in other collections.

By Ernie Dornfeld & Ellen Phillips-Angeles

 

 

Well done Kubota! For more information on how to apply to 4Culture’s 2015 Heritage Collections Care program, eligibility requirements, or examples of other projects funded through this program visit www.4culture.org/apply/heritagecollections. Organizations may submit one application per year and all applications must be submitted online. If you have any questions contact Eric Taylor at (206) 296-1586.

Revised 4/29/15

WebFuzzy + Change is Hard

WebFuzzy is a monthly post by 4Culture staff who are interested in sharing the process of our website redesign by explaining our steps, showing our designs and marveling in our messy mistakes.

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WebFuzzy is a monthly post by 4Culture staff who are interested in sharing the process of our website redesign by explaining our steps, showing our designs and marveling in our messy mistakes.

Free Love
When I first began building websites in 2000, if you could dream it up, you could put it online. I had been doing print design for several years and the freedom of designing for the web was a welcome change. The sites that I was most interested in were those that revealed hidden surprises. These weren’t the most straight-forward and informational sites, but I adored them. They were about having an experience on the web as opposed to using the web mainly as a way to get information.

www.meomi.com
www.meomi.com – you have to check out this website to find all the hidden surprises

The Reformation
The way people access the internet began to change in full force not too long after we redesigned our site in 2011. Up until that point, one of the things most affected by new technology was having a larger screen size to work with. The day we went from 640×480 to 1024×768 was very exciting.

collage_large

In the past few years, everything web has been turned upside down because people are using their phones and tablets to go online. Instead of having more horizontal space to work in, we now have to design and convey information in a much more streamlined way.

Before this big change, the method we used to build a website was:

  1. Design it in photoshop
  2. Present designs to staff
  3. Make revisions and finalize design
  4. Figure out how to build a website to look like the photoshop file

When we started the process of redesigning our website, I began working in the old way. I opened up a 1024px wide file and designed the home page. I then adapted that design (in photoshop) to a mobile (narrow) layout.

Voilá! That was easy.

Not really. The experience of using a website on a phone is very different from looking at a photoshop file or a website on a desktop computer. When I translated my design into code that would work on desktops and phones, it didn’t work at all – technically or intuitively.

collage_mobile

I am learning how to design differently and think about how something will work on a phone first (often called “mobile-first”). My main goal in this site redesign is to make it as easy and clear as possible for people viewing our site (no matter what device they are using) to understand what we’re all about.

Designing for the phone is about minimalism, and I have always been a maximalist. This should be interesting.

 

2015 AKCHO Awards Celebrate County’s Heritage Highlights

New gallery space showing Bruce Lee exhibit © 2015, Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
New gallery space showing Bruce Lee exhibit © 2015, Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Since 1983, the Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) has held an annual event to recognize those who have made significant and memorable contributions to King County’s heritage community. The public is warmly invited to help celebrate the 2015 honorees at the AKCHO Awards Program, which will be held on Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-8:30 PM, at MOHAI.

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Since 1983, the Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) has held an annual event to recognize those who have made significant and memorable contributions to King County’s heritage community. The public is warmly invited to help celebrate the 2015 honorees at the AKCHO Awards Program, which will be held on Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-8:30 PM, at MOHAI.

New gallery space showing Bruce Lee exhibit © 2015, Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
New gallery space showing Bruce Lee exhibit © 2015, Courtesy of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

As in years past, the individuals and institutions being honored represent our diverse and energetic region. Award recipients include:

• AKCHO Board Legacy Award – Dorothy Cordova
• Charles Payton Award for Heritage Advocacy – Scott Cline
• Education Award – Klondike Gold Rush Museum and UW Museology Graduate Program for their collaboration on the exhibit, Community of Courage – A Japanese American Story
• Exhibit Award – Wing Luke Museum & Bruce Lee Foundation for Do You Know Bruce?
• Long Term Project Award – Karen Meador for Military Road: A Lasting Legacy
• Single Impact Event Award – Southwest Seattle Historical Society for restoration of the Admiral Way Totem Pole
• Technology – Burke Museum for Waterlines
• Virginia Marie Folkins Award – Fred Poyner IV for The First Sculptor of Seattle
• Willard Jue Memorial Award/Staff – Victoria Stiles, Shoreline Historical Museum
• Willard Jue Memorial Award/Volunteer – Rick Sever
• Youth Award – Museum of History & Industry for the MOHAI Youth Advisors Program

This free event is supported by 4Culture, the Museum of History & Industry, Historical Research Associates, Inc., and the Northwest Railway Museum. Refreshments will be served, thanks, in part, to generous support from local businesses. Please RSVP by April 20 to collections@eastsideheritagecenter.org. Join the conversation and follow updates on AKCHO’s Facebook page.

We’ve Only Just Begun…

Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

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Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.
Mentor artist, Shontina Vernon. Creative Justice 2015: Session 1. Timothy Aguero Photography.

Creative Justice is 4Culture’s new arts-based alternative to incarceration for King County youth.

Writer, musician, actor, and teaching artist, Shontina Vernon is leading the inaugural project session and working with 12 participants to tell their stories through interdisciplinary performance, new media, and poetic narrative.

One by one they trickle in. Some days joyful and engaged, other days frustrated and scared. But always, they come – the young people of my Creative Justice class. And I try – we try – to meet each other with the best versions of ourselves we can muster. None of us comes perfect, but we all arrive (trust a little shaky, BS meters high) curious to learn something new about the world around us.

When the mixture is just right, it happens. Through art, someone is able to say something they’ve never said before… see themselves in ways maybe they’ve only imagined. S/he is proud and valiant, and eager to take the new knowledge and test it outside. But often, I am met with everything from an orchestra of hems and haws to outright stubborn resistance. I take it as a healthy challenge. This is part and parcel of piloting a program like Creative Justice.

I know that the resistance I meet from youth isn’t personal. It has nothing to do with the list of insecurities that may be running on loop in my own head at any given moment. Their resistance is about a fundamental distrust in a system that has never really given them the space to be, has never acknowledged the ways in which they are human, or how the systems of oppression form bars around their lives before they’ve scarcely even had the chance to experience the world outside.

As a mentor-teaching artist, I am tasked with creating the space where these young people who have been silenced by so much can speak freely about their experiences, and share their stories – adding their ideas to the way that we think about our choices and actions. It is at the heart of my social justice practice, this belief that art shapes our cultural stories, and it matters who is represented among the storytellers. This is especially true in the dismantling of our incarceration system.

Today, in class, our stories will be about loss and grief. We are making “descansos,” and discussing violence, death and healthy ways to grieve. It comes out of a rough week. Some of our students and families have had very recent brushes with loss. We will take a moment to honor those who have gone before us. Loss and violence is a real part of what my youth face in their communities everyday. To pretend otherwise is to deny what is true of their lived experience. And forget that they are children. They are afraid. They, like us, are searching for ways to be free, often with no guides.

Art is built for this. It can handle difficult things. What a gift to be able to give them tools, and then listen as they find their way to their own stories. I try to remind them that “in the telling, you rewrite it.”

Already, I can see just how important the arts will be in the transformation of our culture around incarceration and the juvenile justice system. What they have shared is honest, raw, and only the beginning of true reconciliation.

– Shontina Vernon

WebFuzzy + Masquerade

Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafto
Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafto

WebFuzzy is a monthly post by 4Culture staff who are interested in sharing the process of our website redesign by explaining our steps, showing our designs and marveling in our messy mistakes.

Masquerade
Post 2

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WebFuzzy is a monthly post by 4Culture staff who are interested in sharing the process of our website redesign by explaining our steps, showing our designs and marveling in our messy mistakes.
Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafto
Masquerade
Post 2

Last month, we revealed that the result of our best intentions at crafting a useable website fell short of expectations. A solution emerged: listen to the people who actually use it.

So what did they say? Our UX designer, Sue Ann Harkey, interviewed people who knew or were familiar with 4Culture. She asked them a lot of questions. We also took the opportunity to create an online survey accessed from our home page from February 25 – March 9, 2014.

The results of both activities pointed toward three major reasons people come to our site: looking for funding, looking for funding and looking for funding. There were nuances, of course, but the take away was that the funding process, from announcing opportunities, completing an application and managing a grant or project were the reasons for most visits.

Also, those who have been funded or selected for a project, whether it was for a grant or public art, were a lot more familiar with our jargon and internal processes than those seeking support for the first time.

When Sue Ann interviewed our Subject Matter Experts (4Culture program managers), similar patterns emerged. They felt most visits were related to funding. This is great right? We’re all thinking the same thing. It is great. But, the message we continued to see in all this research was that we have struggled to communicate effectively because finding these resources online has been a chore.

There is a beautifully illustrated book (published in 1979) by Kit Williams titled Masquerade, where a hidden treasure was to be discovered in real life, if only you were able to decipher the clues. I really wanted to find that rabbit charm when I was a kid. The intent of that book sums up the often herculean effort it can take to locate, secure and manage a 4Culture grant or project online (without the book’s ensuing scandal, of course). 4Culture program managers are available to ensure a successful outcome but we can do better online. Through the use of our smartphones, tablets and computers (watches?), the virtual world is now a part of daily life. It is a key to how we communicate with each other and do business, so it is critical for us to be as easy to work with online as it is in real life.

You are looking for funding and come to our website for the first time. What’s there to guide you?

a slice of 4Culture's exisiting home page
Example A – looks familiar

Dueling navigation at the top (banjos?), a map icon, an application login link and a lot of words that link to pages that may help you figure this all out… if you’re patient. It’s a discovery page. But, is this really the right place for all this endless discovery? Less is more.

Instead, what if we made some simple changes to the home page and added a better guide to navigate you in the right direction?

altered 4Culture home page with guided links to funding
Example B – this looks like a better idea

Looking for funding? Why yes I am. Let’s get me started! Simple. I get it. Details to follow.

This little example serves both the hard working program managers trying to get your attention and those looking for funding answers. A better start to navigating a tricky process.

Of course we’re just showing you an example here of how we are thinking for our redesign and not the finished product. Do you think this demonstrates that we’re on the road to better problem solving?

 

Illustration from 2001 Decorative Cuts and Ornaments, edited by Carol Belanger Grafton © 1988, Dover Publications