Out into the World



Yesterday I joined some students from Intermediate Printmaking at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay to install the prayer flags we made with club members. It was a beautiful and joyful culmination of several weeks of drawing together, screenprinting flags, writing prayers and blessings, and finally sewing everything together.

We worked with club members in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade to produce images related to ideas of compassion, which we discussed each time we gathered together to draw. As the project unfolded, it became clear to me that in addition to the importance of compassion, what was significant about our work was that we were doing it together at almost every step. Both drawing together– after which my students marveled at the unbridled enthusiasm and confidence of the kids drawing– and the printing of the flags, sewing them together, and installing them on our campus and at the club.

I am equal parts relieved to have the project mostly wrapped up and delighted to see the flags. The ones on SNC’s campus are hung very high between two buildings. They’ve been whipped around by the wind and are already showing signs of wear. There’s a joyful, chaotic, and abundant feel to seeing them in motion. This is great contrast to the mostly brick architecture and tight branding of our campus. Here is something hopeful, ephemeral, imperfect, and earnest.

Not for the first time I am reminded that much of the making that surrounds community-engaged (and social practice) artwork is logistics: emails, PDFs, measuring twice, and so on. For myself, what might have been the drudgery of such tasks was continually alleviated by so many bright spots: the raucous and funny drawings of the club members, the bright colors of the flags, the satisfaction of screenprinting, the reassuring tactility and frustrations of sewing, and the up-for-whatever of my printmaking students. I’ve also been heartened to read what my students wrote about the experience. Some of them discussed the significance of making artwork for “someone else” and others described the unexpected goodness of having meaningful conversations with children for the first time in years.

I am grateful to work at a place that fosters and values community-engaged work such as this. Special thanks also to Craig Knitt and Taylor DeBroux at the Club for facilitating and supporting this collaboration.


Watch a short news clip about the project here.

Author: Katie

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