Today we went to an alternative high school for ArtTalks. When we go to any school, in any city, we never know what kind of crowd we're going to get. Today we went to an awesome school.
I actually find myself looking forward to alternative schools, because we can often get students to talk to us about deep issues in art. My theory is that alternative hs students are often exposed to pretty hard situations in life, so they're tender...even if some of them seem harsh on the outside. Being tender and vulnerable can help you find connections when you talk about art.
We talked about art, how to find meaning in it, and how to connect it back to your own life. We also talked about Lil Wayne's teeth, and how many euros a diamond-encrusted skull would cost, and how Drake was on Degrassi before he made it in the music industry. I saw a lot of kids sleeping, or talking to their friends. But the ones who were paying attention, and talking to me (even if we weren't on task the entire time), got something out of it. We had some great discussions about the value of Mona Lisa, how art can spark conversation for social change (like PostSecret), how moving to a new school can feel a lot like being an immigrant (New American's @ SMA), and how McDonald's trash can be recycled into art that somehow relates back to the crusades....etc.
The best part about today was that I found some graffiti in the bathroom. In our HS presentation, we actually talk about graffiti and its pros and cons. We delve into legal and moral issues, and why it started on trains, and how graffiti, when done properly, can actually have be voice for change to the public. We don't advocate breaking laws...we just talk about it as art. This is the writing I found:
It gets better. In a school where kids are probably going through some tough things, I bet it was nice for some of them to walk into this room and see some encouragement from a stranger classmate. Even I, who do not have a hard life compared to most of these kids, was pleasantly surprised. This kind of graffiti...I approve.