If you read the Twice the Gift invitation I posted on this blog a few weeks ago, you might have wondered, "hmmm...what does an art center that isn't quite up and running yet produce to sell at a holiday store?" Well, I'm glad you asked. We made what we affectionately call
"The JUSTICE ornament".
The letters of the JUSTICE ornament were designed by five teenagers serving in the Hennepin County Home School. The design was created for the 2008 SPEAK Project, where it was part of a large metal sculpture installation in North Minneapolis Cottage Park. The SPEAK Project is a program sponsored by the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center that engages urban youth in a constructive dialogue with their communities, providing an opportunity for self-expression through the creation of public art.
The letters stand for seven words they chose to signify their struggle to reintegrate into their communities.
Just United Struggle Transition Integrity Collaborate Escalate
I've been teaching the metal sculpture element of the SPEAK Project for three years now. I've worked with a lot of amazing young people in that time. Some of them young enough to take in the welding lab with wide curious eyes without so much as a thought or care about what anyone would think if they whooped and hollered when it was their turn to make some sparks. Most of them, however were deeply enmeshed in the guarded teenage microcosm that can scar and twist the creative individuality right out of a kid. I remember it. It was so tough. These kids were dealing with that multiplied by I can't imagine how much more. Fortunately, my fiery medium has a way of drawing kids out. Exciting them to speak...in their own words...in their own way.
These were their words. This was their process. I learned a lot from them.
[juhs-tis] –noun1. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness
We were thrilled by the opportunity to participate in Twice the Gift as the proceeds from the sale of the items created by the non-profit participants go back to the non-profits. CAFAC decided to share the proceeds with the youth participants who inspired it by creating a scholarship for them at Hennepin County Home School.
Thank Gawd the supermodel Lucky Scheff-Knoke a.k.a. "The Luckstresse" was available to model it for us.