TO THE STREETS!
a course, a practice, a chant, a banner, a block
What would it look like to teach a class that reflects the feelings, materials, questions, research and visions of my own studio practice? I hold my practice as an educator side by side and always in dialogue with being an artist, curator, storyteller and activist.
TO THE STREETS! is a course that I am currently (Spring 2022) teaching and facilitating with a group of amazing undergraduate art students in Virginia. We meet twice a week for 2 hours to read and question and dialogue and watch and perform and make work about our relationship to the communities around us. The glue that holds our investigations together is printmaking. A tool, material and form of art making that has always been about telling stories, sharing news and informing others around us. Our syllabus is our ingredient list, materials are fluid yet important, the long legacy of social justice printmaking is our base, experimentation is how we move and play. We are approaching this class with care and slowness and patience, we are becoming a collective body, our ingredient lists are changing, growing and expanding!
TO THE STREETS! is a practice I have in and out of the studio, solo and collectively. The banners I make, stories I tell and books I bind are all very much influenced by walks and protests and time spent in the streets and community around me. I am constantly drawn to text and poetry found and made in the streets and public. Vanity plates, store fronts, murals, meals, billboards, bulletin boards, stories shared, signs in windows, chalk drawings, wheatpaste posters, ice cream trucks, overheard gossip, flyers stapled on poles, zines, newspapers, community radio, yard signs, flags, mutual aid text threads. The public yet intimate acts that are exchanged and shared in, around and on the streets, feel so special and yet so everyday. I am interested in how the universality of the streets, sidewalks, shared public space feel and yet how totally different we all experience them. I turn to the streets before I turn to my studio, I am fed constantly by all the ways we share a space like the streets.
TO THE STREETS! is many chants, TAKE IT TO THE STREETS AND FUCK THE POLICE! TAKE IT TO THE STREETS AND FUCK THE POLICE! WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS! WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS! TAKE IT TO THE STREETS, DEFUND THE POLICE! TAKE IT TO THE STREETS, DEFUND THE POLICE. WE MAD, WE LIT, WE TAKIN’ OVER THESE STREETS! WE MAD, WE LIT, WE TAKIN’ OVER THESE STREETS!
TO THE STREETS! asks us to return to a block in our neighborhood every week and listen, watch, see, be, perform acts of maintenance, learn, step back, step forward, go on a viewfinder walk, sweep the block.
Every few weeks, the TO THE STREETS! course explores different strategies that question: What does it mean to make work in the public eye? How can our work affect or be affected by the spaces that surround us? What relationship does our work have to the communities that populate the streets?
TO THE STREETS! Ingredients*:
* “There should be new rules next week” –Corita Kent, 10 Rules for Teachers and Students
Strategies: Manifestos, maintenance/care acts, collective resource library (what do we all have to contribute to this course/community: resources, skills, interests, materials), community agreements
Printmaking Tools: Stencil making, viewfinder tool
Readings: Maintenance Manifesto by Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Black Panther Party Ten Point Program
Cheap Art Manifesto by Bread and Puppet Theater
Typography Messages of Protest for Civil Rights by Colette Gaiter for BIPOC Design History (video: 01:49:36)
Michael Swaine: “Mending for the People” Tenderloin National Forest, San Francisco (video: 07:00)
Becoming a Microscope (a film about Corita Kent) by Aaron Rose
Strategies: Cantastoria street theater, wearable protest garments
Printmaking Tools: Screenprinting (drawing fluid, monoprint)
Readings: About Sung Paintings or Cantastoria by Clare Dolan
“Fire” Cantastoria by Bread and Puppet (video: 04:24)
Catalysis: An Interview with Adrian Piper by Lucy Lippard and Adrian Piper
Protest Garment Lab, Aram Sifuentes and collaborators, 5 short videos
Crawl by Pope L.
Strategies: Radical publishing history/forms, queer strategies of resistance
Printmaking Tools: Risograph printing, artist books/zines
Readings: Urgent Craft: Radical Publishing During Crisis by Paul Soulellis
#freethemall Billboard Project, Fronteristxs Collective, 2020 (video: 01:07:24)
Center for the study of political graphics, Online Archive
Lesbian Herstory Archive, Online Archive
“All Printing Is Political: Fredy Perlman and the Detroit Printing Co-op” by Andrew Blauvelt
Strategies: Derive walk, mutual aid, collective action
Printmaking Tools: A walk score
Readings: Derive, The Art of Getting Lost by Public Street
People’s Kitchen Collective Serves Up a Recipe for Resilience (video: 07:39)
‘One of the biggest, baddest things we did’: Black Panthers’ free breakfasts, 50 years on by Ruth Gebreyesus
“You Are Not Entitled To Our Deaths: COVID, Abled Supremacy & Interdependence” By Mia Mingus
Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program (1969-1980) by Diane Pien
Toolkit for Cooperative, Collective and Collaborative Cultural Work by Press Press & The Institute for Expanded Research
Mutual Aid by Dean Spade, Characteristics of Mutual Aid vs. Charity/No Master No Flakes
TO THE STREETS! is a course, a practice, a chant, a banner, a block, a list of ingredients to be used and taught with and made with and I am honored to share the root of this course with you all!! Thanks to Syllabus, my incredible, brave and wonderful students who are making this course with me, and all the scholars, artists, thinkers, archives, listed above that we can learn with and from.