Urbano Project Site Visit and Ideas, 09/30/2013
A few blocks away from the Stony Brook T station in Jamaica Plains lies Urbano, a gallery space with many uses. The most important of which is to facilitate the learning and empowerment of young artists from Boston’s public schools.
Today we had our first visit to the Urbano Project, where we met with Urbano staff: Stella McGregor, Risa Horn, Eve, and Nadia. It is a small and committed staff, devoted to Urbano’s mission of youth empowerment and collective, collaborative envisioning through the arts. We also met with Karla, Urbano’s teaching artist for film, and briefly observed as Charles, the performance teaching artist, taught his weekly class to Urbano’s youth artists. Stella allowed us to introduce ourselves to the youth artists, and they seemed genuinely excited to have us in the space. In our meeting with Urbano staff, we discussed the project Urbano is working on this Fall, The Emancipated City: Reimagining Boston (Urban Myths and The Dream Machine), in more detail, and brainstormed ways of how we can contribute to the effort.
The goal of the project is to create interactive opportunities for the public to get to know Urbano better, learn about and from their work and contribute with their own ideas (whether it is myths or dreams or ideas of a better Boston imagined). Stella pointed out that interaction and engagement, blurring the line between artist and audience, was important to Urbano's work (and contemporary art, more generally). Engaging with diverse audiences is also key: traditional art gallery visitors, participant family and friends, JP and the larger Boston community members, folks with or without access to internet/digital technology. It was stressed that the project should emulate the values of Urbano like collaboration, risk-taking, exploration, breaking-boundaries, and communication.
One idea that we came up with was to use social media as a tool to let more people know about the project and maybe have a simple but interesting website environment where they could share their ideas. Other ideas included creating a physical installation which could travel to different parts of the community, like a “Dream Mobile.”