culture

Community-Based Art Can Be a Significant Force for Social Change


great-wall-of-los-angelesThe Great Wall of Los Angeles depicts the history of LA, with special emphasis on Native Americans and minorities.

Written by Tim Takechi 

from The official blog of Global Visionaries

The arts are supposed to be a vehicle for social change. So why doesn’t it seem like it?

As school districts and universities across the country face massive budget cuts from federal and state governments, funding for the arts (including both performance-based and visual) is expected to be threatened.

After all, doesn’t it make sense to cut programs that don’t help our students improve math and science test scores? How does your skill with a paint brush or violin help you make advances in environmental engineering? Or compete with China? Or India? You get the idea.

So before we delve into an obvious rant about how the arts are essential to a healthy society, it is important to note that critics have a strong argument for wanting to focus more attention on math and science.

American students are our future. As the Baby Boomer generation starts to approach retirement age, there will soon be a large talent gap in important areas of social infrastructure such as education and engineering.

It is important that we have plenty of fresh young minds take over these jobs when the present generation decides to leave. Now you can see why certain government officials have little problem cutting music, theatre and visual arts funding.

So what can be done to preserve our nation’s artistic output given these shrinking budgets?

That’s where community-based art comes into play.

What is community-based art, you may ask? Let us explain:

Community-based art is any art created with the purpose of engaging a particular community (defined by any geographical or demographic boundaries you see fit) into a larger dialogue with the purpose of generating positive change.

A great example of a community-based arts organization is The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), an organization serving the larger Los Angeles area. SPARC strives to give a voice to and celebrate LA’s ethnically and economically diverse population. They focus especially on “women, the working poor, youth, the elderly and newly arrived immigrant communities.”

One of SPARC’s most famous projects is The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a half a mile long wall featuring artwork encouraging interracial harmony.

Also check out Jumblies Theatre located in Toronto, Canada. Jumblies is dedicated to building relationships between multicultural artists and their larger community through partnerships, arts ventures, education and workshops.

Consider Jumblies’ most recent venture, The Scarborough Project. It is a community arts training program based in one of Toronto’s most ethnically diverse municipalities. Reaching out to Scarborough’s large immigrant population, Jumblies works to empower the community through artistic expression.

Closer to home, Barbara Luecke is the Sound Transit Art Program Manager and parent of a former Global Visionaries participant. Since 2006, Barbara has overseen and coordinated more than 50 arts projects integrated in light rail, commuter rail and bus express facilities all over Seattle.

One striking piece of art that can be found at a Light Rail station is a sculpture entitled “Rainier Beach Haiku” designed by Japanese-American artist and retired university professor Roger Shimomura. Located at the Othello Station in Rainier Valley, Shimomura’s humorous sculpture explores the difficulty of living in two different cultures at the same time.

rainier-beach-haiku“Rainier Beach Haiku” by Japanese-American artist Roger Shimomura sits at the Othello Station.

4Culture, a cultural service agency serving the King County area, kicked off their 2010 Site-Specific series by hosting the Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre’s musical re-enactment of the 1970 historical take-over of Fort Lawton.

Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre engages “Native Indian and Alaskan Native youth to express themselves with confidence and clarity through traditional and contemporary performing arts.” RES has staged more than 130 productions with youth ages 11-19.

All these organizations will agree that it’s better for people to express themselves through art than violence. Too often marginalized folks feel the only way they can empower themselves is by committing crimes against society. The people of SPARC and Jumblies Theatre want to reverse that by creating public art in a spirit of inclusiveness.

Organizations such as Arts Corps and 4Culture do not in any way represent an alternative to public school arts programs. Instead, they illustrate that there are other venues for empowering young people to artistically express themselves that go beyond the four walls of a school building.

wing-luke-asian-museumWing Luke Asian Museum features art created by Asian-American artists.

These organizations, like all nonprofits, are funded through a combination of public and private money. None of these folks are out to get rich. That is not why they do what they do. People like Barbara Luecke and Roger Shimomura are motivated by a desire to improve communities through arts engagement.  Too often communities are forced to come together after tragedies like natural disasters and violent acts.

Community-based art is a fantastic way for people from diverse backgrounds to come together in a healthy, constructive and vibrant manner.

If your local school is planning to cut funding for the arts, don’t be afraid that our artistic legacy is lost. There is reason to have hope. In times of need, sometimes all it takes are a dedicated group of people, a dream and the will to make magic happen.

Obviously, it is preferable that funding for the arts continues in public schools. But if that doesn’t seem possible, don’t feel like it’s a lost cause.

Just research all the projects mentioned above. Most of them started on a shoe-string budget and continue to exist today. Unfortunately, we cannot change cuts to education spending. That is left to politicians. What we can do is take heart that there are other venues for cultivating tomorrow’s artists.

They might not be found in a classroom. You might have to take a peak outside your window.

http://gvisionaries.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/community-based-art-can-be-a-significant-force-for-social-change/

Tye-Dye Workshop


TyeDye Workshop

Have you always wanted to create a Tyedye T-shirt?

    This is your chance to learn how with your friends and family. 

     Date: Saturday, July 14, 2012

10 a.m. -12noon   Cost $15.00  Ages 10 & up!

Class Size: Must have at least 8 for a class for material cost!  

Must sign up by July 2, 2012

Materials Needed: Must provide your own shirt(s)

For more information or to sign up call 419-935-3404 or email theartjunction@yahoo.com

Butterfly Day


The Art Junction held it’s second Family Art Day on March 31, 2012 with the theme of Butterflies.

Families had the opportunity to come together to create together.

Butterflies are a wonderful symbol of Spring and the transformation that is taking place in the environment around us during this season.

A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect  which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly’s life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea).

Butterflies like the Monarch will migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants.

Some butterfly species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; however, some species are agents of pollination of some plants, and caterpillars of a few butterflies (e.g., Harvesters) eat harmful insects.

Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.

When the butterfly larva is fully grown, hormones are produced. At this point the larva stops feeding and begins “wandering” in the quest of a suitable pupation site, often the underside of a leaf.

The larva transforms into a pupa (or chrysalis) by anchoring itself to a substrate and moulting for the last time. The chrysalis is usually incapable of movement, although some species can rapidly move the abdominal segments or produce sounds to scare potential predators.

The pupal transformation into a butterfly through metamorphosis has held great appeal to mankind. To transform from the miniature wings visible on the outside of the pupa into large structures usable for flight, the pupal wings undergo rapid mitosis and absorb a great deal of nutrients. Let’s see how the creative process is similar to the metamorphosis a butterfly endures.

Participants first painted coffee filter paper which, after drying, transforms into the butterfly wings.

While awaiting the drying process, families had the opportunity to create another type of butterfly.

Employing a technique called a “blotto panting”, families  could create another butterfly.

Blotto painting is a painting made by applying tempera paint onto one side of a sheet of paper, then folding the paper and pressing the two sides together.


Like an inkblot, a blotto painting is apt to be symmetrical and nonobjective. Making one is largely an aleatoric act — leaving much to chance.

Although the concept of symmetry is used in creating half of the butterfly design, much is left up to creative chance or a happy accident.

This project reflects much of the mystery of the creative process…we never quite know what the final results of a creative experience will foster.

This makes a blotto painting a transformative project, much like the pupa becoming a butterfly.

The next step in returning to the 3D butterfly project is to select a plastic bug body and a flexi stem for the antennae and to then put them together.

The final step in transforming the wings is to cut the coffee filter in half and the half shape into a rectangle.

The very last step in creating the wings is to create a thin fan fold from the rectangle shape and insert it into the bug body to create a 3D butterfly.

One of the goals in having a Family Art Day is to allow families the opportunity to create together.

We all have the desire to create something, and in our post-modern society there seem to be few opportunities to come together and create together.

We have many examples around us of the effects of the break-up of the family and community.

It’s time to come together and make a creative, transformitive change in our community.

When various ages work together, unity creates community.

Seeing generations create together passes on traditions and knowledge and understanding of where one lives.

We are not meant to create alone.

We were meant to work as a community, passing on our knowledge as well as learning from others, no matter what their age.

The community is the web of life that inextricably embraces, defines, and empowers children and adults alike. -Peter London

I hope you can join us for future classes, events, gallery exhibitions and creative opportunities to creatively transform our community.