The YALL Art Project is a two part collaborative art project in Photography and Mural Painting. Students are each given a camera and guided through a series of assignments that encourage them to find their authentic voice and individual self-expression. As the assignments unfold, the students get to know each other through the sharing of and exploring each other’s photographs and through team building exercises and critiques. After hearing each other’s voices, perspectives, and ideas, the group is challenged to collaborate on a mural inspired by the images and stories of their photographs, thereby celebrating and incorporating both their differences and similarities. Students complete the course with a working knowledge of how to use a professional camera, a series of photographs for their portfolio, and prints that can be sold to fund-raise for their community or school; as well as color mixing, a working knowledge of how to execute a large scale painting, and documentation of the process which they also add to their portfolio. A completed public mural remains, a permanent manifestation of their newly acquired skills and a testament to their talents and perseverance, as well as a contribution to the community that they can point to with pride.
While the students learn practical skills in both photography and large-scale mural painting, the most important goals of the project are as follows:
- To use artistic expression to help children overcome the trauma of severe abuse. Making art is a recognized, well-documented tool that "allows victims to express their feelings and stories in a non-invasive way."*
- To teach the value of self-expression, and that creating is not reserved for artists: We all have our inner artist.
- To practice increasing acceptance of each other by maintaining an environment of equality and mutual respect throughout the process, and by giving value to each individual voice.
- To reduce the sense of isolation caused by trauma and abuse, while simultaneously opening up the perspectives of the students to the multiple views through which others see the world.
- To increase the students' capacity for empathy by having to collaborate despite differing perspectives.
- To teach collaboration, especially when considering the differences in each other’s views. Encouraging students to work through the challenges of a final design together is an invaluable skill to bring to their personal lives, to the work place, and to their communities.
- To raise the confidence of each student as a valuable member of their community by giving them this space where their voice matters and their contribution forms a concrete reality that can be seen by their fellow community members.
- To solidify the idea that the world is ours to create.
WhY DOES THIS MATTER?
We believe that the above goals are paramount to a better world. Unlocking the chains of traumatic experience leads to self and mutual respect: Anything is possible when one has the skill set of accepting oneself, accepting others, accepting differences, and knowing how to collaborate on a vision that nurtures everyone as equals. This is the skill set we ultimately hope for our students to bring into their communities. One measure of the success of The Y'ALL Art Project will be evidence of the students' continued personal growth and productive involvement in their communities as catalysts for healing.
WhY PHOTOGRAPHY & MURAL PAINTING?
These mediums allow the process to begin with discovering their individual self expression and then evolve to collaborating on a collective vision. When the students see the mural in the community they have the reward of continually seeing their impact on the community. When the students see their photographs, they hold the evidence that their unique view had an impact on the whole.