Art and Community Mapping

Instructor Name: 
Sabina Haque
Course Description: 

Scott SUN and Portland State University (PSU) coordinate the "Art & Community Mapping" after-school program. PSU Fine Arts professor Sabina Haque leads the class of 20 Scott students (gr. 4-8) and 20 volunteers from her PSU capstone class. PSU and Scott students are matched for individual mentorship. PSU students will learn about local and national issues in Arts education, and the role of community based Art to support child and youth achievement.The class meets once a week at the school site and will collaborate on the production of a community mural. Scott families will be invited to an arts night to inspire mural images. The SUN class will create identity symbols and write about their community and dreams for the future. The drawings will be transferred onto wood panels which will be put together to form a mural. Students will use their art and writing to create a 1 minute audio/visual story. Sabina and the PSU mentors will facilitate students painting the mural and creating their digital story. A final exhibit will showcase the preliminary work, finished panels, and screen the digital stories. The project will serve 20 youth and directly impact the 500 students at Scott School. Project Funded by RAAC Arts in Schools grant, Neighborhood grant & National PTA grant.

Project Description: 

The map is one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication. Like narrative documents, both the form and substance of historical maps tell a story. The "form" of an historical map-its artwork, its "style" and presentation-in itself provides an insight into past eras and cultures. The "substance" of a map (what it shows, literally) provides a record of past landscapes and features that may no longer exist. It also reflects the priorities, sensibilities, fears, and the state of knowledge of the mapmaker and his or her cultural context.

Students will have direct contact with the experiences and needs of people from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.  The students will be teamed up with adolescents with a range of ethnic and cultural perspectives, class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability.

Assignment #1, Make a Home Map:In the first meeting participants will make and share their "home maps" and talk about the context in which they live and the different relationships/ people that make up their home.   They will discuss the things that exist in and around their homes including places they frequent in their local neighborhoods. This dialogue is meant to expand the frame of reference and to introduce the idea of mapping the community.  For example, McKenzie, a seventh grader shared with the group that her parents are one of the first lesbian couples to get married in Oregon when the law allowed it briefly.  McKenzie spoke about how proud she was of her parents.  This personal disclosure led to a discussion about gay and lesbian marriage.  Students were asked to engage in a series of self-reflective discussions and writing designed to heighten awareness of personal and institutional bias.  In the end McKenzie and her college art buddy helped her to find a way to use symbolic imagery to integrate this valuable bit of cultural information into her map of the community

Assignment #2, Creating a Tour of PSU: Mapping your college experience.
Consider your audience:  these are young students that are exciting about learning but may have never visited a university campus.  You need to empower these young students with information about this experience.

Assignment #3, Develop and Conduct Surveys of your area: You will work in groups of 4 roughly based on your neighborhood/community to create one ABC of all the things that are important to you, and also make your community distinct in itself. The research will address your own personal, socio-political, historical and geographical concerns within your community.

Assignment #4, Oral Presentation: All the data and information collected by the various groups will be analyzed in order to find common themes and any inherent contradictions. The questions of how to interpret and visually represent the personal, the socio-political, historical and geographical elements and their contradictions become central to the map-making process.   How will the art buddies work jointly to incorporate symbols and language to create their stories of their places and their time? We will discover how they order the space around them, the connections they have formed with their nearby world, the things that are emotionally important to them, and their evolving sense of place. The community-mapping art project then becomes a reflection on this process.

Assignment # 5, Mentoring: Each student will meet on site once a week for eight scheduled meetings with their art buddy. This mentoring time will provide you with some hands on experience as well as providing time to motivate the kids towards our community project. Remember, what you get from this experience is dependent upon the level of responsibility that you choose to take for yourself and for the kids. Positive and productive interaction is key. At the end of each session the students will incorporate some simple reflection activities with their art buddy.  Reflection will help solidify learning, highlight accomplishments and build identity
The art buddies will be introduced to range of historic to present day maps at the PSU map room where they will work in groups using critical thinking skills in analyzing how maps use symbolic language, exaggerations and inventions, connectors and landmarks. 

Assignment # 6, Research Project: A PowerPoint presentation. The students will also research, analyze and present the work of contemporary artists who also use maps in their art as metaphors for human relationships.

Assignment #7, Final Exhibition: The students will be working in small groups to make their final collaborative maps incorporating all the research from the ABC and questionnaires.  Each group will decide what materials will be used and how the map will be created.  Students are encouraged to use a wide range of materials, from photography, to paint, mixed media, 3D sculpture and even video. The project will be exhibited during the final week of class. 

Group Evaluation of Community Map  group members: All group members will be asked to turn in evaluation forms for all group members in a sealed envelope. I will use these evaluations to determine relative contributions from each group member and may adjust certain student grades accordingly. See the attached evaluation sheet.