City of Stories: Voices of Children

My project City of Stories began in Jan 2018 and its so exciting to share with you the latest version–Voices of Children!

City of Stories is a community book art project that makes voices visible. When displayed, the books created will visually celebrate what unites us as well as what distinguishes us from one another. Read more about City of Stories here!

In a wonderful collaboration with BU-GATA’s Buckingham Youth Brigade, in Arlington, VA, I worked with Arlington Public School students who are participants in the BYB program and live near my Studio, Studio Pause. Kirby (Kirubel Fessesework) had come to the studio as a BYB volunteer and now here he was as the project manager! We were also thrilled to get funding through an Arlington Education Fund grant from Arlington Community Foundation for the project.

The project would take their stories to students of Chadwick International School in Incheon, S. Korea, where PAUSEr Amar Shekdar was art teacher. He would then have his students write stories they wanted to share with the BYB students, and make them into art. In a final celebration at the end of the school year, the BYB students would put up an exhibit of the artworks and invite the community to it, teaching them how to make the books and adding them to the display.

  1. We started with taking the students on a field trip to Arlington’s Bozman Center where the City of Stories 2019 exhibit was on view. They listened to the stories, read the StoryPages I had designed, and picked a story that resonated with them. Then they made the StoryPage into a 3D House-shaped book and wrote their response in it.

2. The students then started to visit the Studio weekly to brainstorm what stories they would like to share from their lives. They learned elements of a story and were encouraged to share any story they wanted the students in Korea to know.

3. They made artworks for their stories. Some decided to paint, and one student wanted to collage. Another student’s work is incomplete because everything stopped suddenly!

My project advisor, PAUSEr Kori Johnson and I were all set to take the project to Amar’s school in S. Korea and then guess what happened? The Coronavirus hit S. Korea! Their school was closed and Amar left for New Zealand. Eventually, he started teaching online.

BUT, the project didn’t stop!

Finally, we were able to share the project with his students via Zoom. 26 students attended that! I made a short film about our work and shared it with the students. I sent the StoryPages with Amar. As of today, the students have written their stories and are exploring how to make them into art. But they are home, its almost time for school to end… So many things are different now.

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