PAL Project Collaborations with Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection

I Am …

Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet, writes, in his prose poem “The Blue House,” “All sketches want to become real.”  A major part of our working with the community with our class (TRM 310/610 – Literacy, Community, and Media / ENG 650) is to offer up this possibility.

We encourage young populations to create diverse statements about themselves and the world they engage in through photography and creative writing.  We try to indicate methods and means by which their imaginations can confer with reality, a conversation if you will.  For some young people this is their first experience in letting their sense for visual art collaborate with their sense for the written word.  We trust that through events like this exhibition, and with the completion of a book of their work, we will encourage young students to continue to acquaint themselves with creative possibilities in photography, writing, or other art forms.

It is okay to have “the blue-ooze” (poet Jayne Cortez).  It is okay to have “low to high tone endings disappearing into / a charcoal forest” (Jayne Cortez).  We show the students photography and writing which has “a very fine pulse” (again, Cortez).  We try to indicate the pulse of the student work with our suggestions and choices.  The real and the imagined can be found in something as simple as “I see the windows, and trees, and tomorrow” (Sapphire).  Or the real and imagined can be as sweetly intricate as poet Terrance Hayes writes in “Wind in a Box” – “I want to be the mirror, / but not the nightstand.  I do not want to be the light switch.”

This exhibition, and others like it, are celebrations of young student work in our Syracuse community.  We hope you feel the lively pulse of their endeavors.

A special thanks to: Syracuse University, Chancellor, Nancy Cantor, Coalition of Museum and Art Centers, Near West Side Initiative, The College of Visual and Performing Arts, SUArt Gallery, Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse City School District, The Partnership for Better Education, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, Wayne O’Conner, Mike Olsen, Hillside Advocates, the graduate and undergraduate students from Syracuse University who took this course this semester and worked with enthusiasm and care with the young creators. Mostly, thanks to the kids for allowing us into your world.

Michael Burkard and Stephen Mahan

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