Thursday, August 2, 2018

Syep 2018

Yesterday was the culminating workday with my Prince Georges County Summer Youth Employment Program team.

The 14-18 years olds have been clearing honeysuckle, grapevine, bittersweet and lots of mugwort off of trees and out of the ground in the local trail.
I heard today that they have removed 10000 sq ft in their 4 week project! Wow that is awesome! This work makes our trails much safer!

So my part in all of this was to work with SYEP in the afternoons 2x a week to create a collaborative public sculpture to live on a tree along the Anacostia river in the parks Art on the Trails project. We worked with the vines that they were pulling each morning and natural twine.
My idea was to create an imagination provocation, a visual element that sparks creative thinking! The work would be installed on a mock pear tree that is set to die because it is crowding out 3 native trees at Bladensberg Waterfront Park. This project springs from the 2015 "Listen" Art on the Trails project.

I visioned the workshops to be like a quilting bee or a tamale making party. Everyone has a role that is essential for the whole project to be a success, and a safe space to share stories.

Most days the youth were pretty tired from their morning's work pulling weeds.For the first few workshops, we were under the tree that we were creating the artwork to hang onto. Later in the week, as the rain really set in we worked under the park's awesome pavilion.

There were a few opportunities for interesting conversations around higher education and safety when playing sports. The hand work was sparse as the young people were captivated by their phones but with the support of a couple of the group leaders ultimately the project is wonderful!

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