An ongoing project with youth in Yonkers, NY. The project's direction is determined by the youth, and is executed with my help. We have been exploring what it means for youth to create an artistic response to the political climate we find ourselves in. The New Rampart puts into question the functionality of a wall and how it can exist to undermine its political purpose by inciting connection and communication rather than isolation and separation.
Post-it Wall, 2017
The results of asking, "What's on your mind?". Participants wrote words and phrases down, and then circled words and phrases in either blue, pink or green, which categorized them as dealing with the self (blue), school (pink) and future (green).
Once the words and phrases had been categorized, they placed them on this chart gauging importance and positivity/negativity of each word or phrase.
They jointly decided on three words or phrases, one from each category to focus on. They chose "Crushing College", "Social Life" and "To Kill A Mockingbird". With 100 marbles, they divided up their "concerns" into bags labeled with the words or phrases.
Using found and scrap materials, I responded to their thoughts on how to visualize their chosen concerns. This is where the concept of the wall came from, as they described To Kill A Mockingbird as being a wall that instead of separating, linked history with the present.
Using a compounded image of the twins' eyes as the "counter" for the American flag, we decided on making these blinds that could be shifted back and forth between a graphic representation of this country and a set of eyes obviously belonging to young POC staring back at you. (Venetian blinds, spray paint, laser jet printed images, glue)
The New Rampart, 2017
(View 1) Using almost exclusively recycled and found materials, I did the structural construction of this 12 foot tall, 8 foot wide wall. We decided on aspects like a door that doesn't open, but instead has a window to look through at the other side, flipping chalkboard panels, a "lightbox" with a To Kill A Mockingbird quote they felt was poignant, the blinds and jumbo sized post-its, referencing where this all came from.
The New Rampart, 2017
(View 2) Using almost exclusively recycled and found materials, I did the structural construction of this 12 foot tall, 8 foot wide wall. We decided on aspects like a window guard with a shirt we designed hanging from it reading "WE ARE LIVING PROOF", a sound tube and peephole that could be reached via the stairs to see and hear people on the other side, and a "hole" in the wall exposing a growing flower and greenery, symbolizing growth and flexibility.
The Star-Spangled Banner (Remix), 2017
In the process of making The New Rampart we spoke extensively about current events, and NFL Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick's, protest of the National Anthem came up. We decided to rewrite the centuries-old anthem and make it more true and relevant to today. Visitors were encouraged to sit in the desk and face the wall as they listened to the repeating anthem, hopefully inciting a connection to the school-prison pipeline. (School desks, headphones, audio player)