Now that I am taking a handful of classes, school has become my priority for the last couple months. Its been a bit of a bummer to have my personal projects take a back seat, but I'm making some really exciting plans for the summer - I will be sharing those updates once everything is finalized.
I shouldn't complain because all of my classes are enriching. How many times in life does one take a welding class? I get to heat up metal and hit it very hard with a hammer - its as cathartic as one would expect. I'm taking the time to expose myself to new worlds and new disciplines (in and outside of the classroom), which is expanding my vision for what my art-making and my life outside of art-making could look like.
For instance, I met the people from North Philly Peace Park at a conference this weekend organized by Diverse Design (a group of graduate architect and city planning students from the design program at UPenn). I am humbled and inspired by the individuals from NPPP who had a vision to serve a community, and were able to successfully empower, feed, and educate those in need. Although the organization is going through transition right now, their battle with the city of Philadelphia has shown that when a community comes together as one voice, people can make an impact. Its was so exciting to learn that the first Earth Ship ever built in an urban setting was built by NPPP minutes from where I currently live. It is also exciting to picture their vision: urban farms without fences in the heart of North Philadelphia where neighbors and children are free to come and put their hands in the dirt, gather on the land, or eat the food grown on the land.
I can't stop thinking about the intersection of art-making and activism, especially the notion that art-making has great potential for community building and healing. I've seen other artists who have successfully employed art to serve their communities, but I am still searching for how I can better serve those around me with the skills I have. I am truly humbled by the amazing people I encounter in Philadelphia and in my travels - I hope I can learn from them and help heal the communities most in need.