“By creating a place for youth to exercise expression, and providing a platform to give a voice and a lifeto their ideas, hopes, inspirations and dreams, GSM invests in the community and future generations,” Ishared in support of exercising freedom of expression and imagination. In challenge to this fundamentalAmerican principle exists censorship- the crossbow where art meets politics. In March, tension overthe banning of Persepolis in the CPS grew, igniting suspicion and questions regarding city’s attempts torestrict youth access to information, ten years after the release of the novel at a time, paralleling theincreasing tension between Iran & the US.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child seeks to preserve the right to freedom of imagination
and expression, the right to have opinions without interference and to seek information regardless of
frontiers. Meanwhile, around the world, challenges to freedom of expression continue. By creating a
place for youth to exercise expression, and providing a platform to give a voice and a life to their ideas,
hopes, inspirations and dreams, GSM invests in the community and future generations. By creating a
safe haven for youth to explore and engage, we preserve and exercise this freedom for years to come.
From Chicago’s Northwest neighborhood Humboldt Park flows innumerable stories following and weaving cultural pathways, pulsing narratives and identities, carried by life’s rhythms, ebbs & flows, success and digressions. Up until a few years ago, the Humboldt Park neighborhood had the highest per capita crime & poverty statistics in Chicago, a city notorious for rampant violence and high crime rates.
It didn’t take long to find out Guillermo’s art spark was ignited since long before I met him in the Green Star Movement rooms. My first day making mosaics, Guillermo talked to me about his own mosaic projects, showed me again and again how to use the mirror cutting tool (it took me a while to get the nerve up to use my strength effectively) and shared a little bit of his take on the world around him. Budding artists, like Guillermo, use art as a tool for expression, connection and creation of a brighter world. By giving opportunities to youth like Guillermo to explore and strengthen their creative drive, we spin our world’s wheels in the direction of a more luminescent, beautiful horizon. Through art and his creative process, Guillermo communicates his ideas, concepts and positions, connecting with himself and reaching a state of calm. In this interview, we talk about Guillermo’s relationship with art, creation and taking a stand.
We all know the Chicago Public School system leaves a lot to be desired. With high stakes test-driven educational models leading to rampant school closings, it’s critical that we spend time actively engaging with the youth in our communities. The Department of Justice reports that 29% of all juvenile offenses occur on school days between 2 PM & 8 PM, and the number of violent crimes committed doubles in the hour immediately after school lets out (US Department of Justice, 1997). Engaging after school programs redirect these energies and attention toward the creative, rather than destructive and can provide youth with a source of empowerment foreign in contemporary school settings.
This modern life has stuffed our lives with so much to get lost in. There’s no better place to be found than through the creative process. The creative process guides self discovery, opens up our imaginations and deepens our connection to the world around us. With the onslaught of unforeseen social, developmental and emotional challenges faced by our youth today, we, as artists and makers, possess a unique opportunity in history to transform and activate a generation through the opportunities, experiences and skills offered by fostering creativity.
The students at Farragut have entered into the next stage of the creative process: design.
The goal of the next few weeks is to generate images that will actually appear on our mural.
We began the day with a lesson in texture. The students were instructed to explore the school grounds and trace interesting patterns found in the environment. These patterns will serve as inspiration for the background of the mosaic.
In continued celebration and support of women and equality post-International Women’s Day, we have pieced highlights of prominent, contemporary female ﬁgures who use public art as a means to engage and reimagine society- as artist Katie Yamasaki puts it, giving voice to “those who have traditionally been spoken for rather than listened to.” International Women’s Day, celebrated in many countries worldwide on March 8, is a day for us to collectively honor the struggles and accomplishments of women, without acknowledgment of divisive lines, while looking forward to a future of untapped potential for generations of women to come. It was initiated by the United Nations in 1975, the International Year of Women to encourage support for women’s rights and an end to discrimination. It wasn’t until the 1970s that women began taking a more visible, active role in public arts. This development was only made possible by opening access to the ofﬁcial institutions that historically blocked women from entry, to the necessary training, technical skill and social systems to design and produce public works of art. Prior to this, women artists in the west generally settled for work in socially accepted art mediums- china decoration, portraiture and ﬂower painting, or handicrafts…”
About 30 teens sit in the ceramic room on the second floor of Rumble Arts on a Friday evening. The energy in the room is alive as the reggaton music blasts from the speakers and everybody moves to the beat.
The mosaic program is in its fifth week, with five more to go until the end. The teens, some of whom come from different schools, have been working in groups to complete the section of the mural that they’ve have chosen. For many of them, the program is an opportunity to be in a safe environment after
school. It’s also a place where they can pick up a new skill and interact with youth from
their neighborhood that they may not have met otherwise.