20 Neighborhoods – May 2015

This session of 20 Neighborhoods was meant to be a little bit different. The theme of the current show, “Feminism (n.): Plural” was so loaded and as teaching artists, we were unsure what angles we wanted to take and focus on. We planned not to create a take-home art piece, which had been our focus in the past few sessions. Instead, we decided to discuss womanhood and create ephemeral collaborative art pieces.

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To begin the day, participants from Arts of Life and Chinese American Service League sat with teaching artists and talked about womanhood and “feminism.” Chinese American Service League taught us how to say “feminism” in Chinese and we all practiced. Ideas of family roles, gender equality, gender roles, traditions in our cultures surrounding women, and personal experienced were the focus during our conversation. CASL had a male participant present for this session, which brought in an interesting and valued perspective. 20n3 (1)

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The next step of the day was for us to split into two groups, and create a cloth and masking tape sculpture that represents “feminism” in some way. Four CASL participants were  in one group and created a doll that had a school bag and was meant represent a well-educated modern woman.

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The other group, including both CASL and Arts of Life participants, felt that feminism involved adorning the self and one another. Linda from Arts of Life thought that she should become a bird to represent feminism.

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After the quick 10-minute long creation period, the two groups shared ideas and described their artworks. They also took group pictures.

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The next part of our day was tours, in the same style that we had been leading in the previous sessions. This gave the day some consistency and structure. The conversations had depth and freedom, it seemed like participants were becoming even more confident and comfortable discussing their views and perspectives about the artwork. It was fruitful and exciting.

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By the end of the day, there was a good understanding of each others’ lives as women–and what having Down Syndrome, being Chinese American or African American, able-bodied and otherwise, can mean for our experiences in this world. It felt meaningful for us to be open and honest with one another in a safe space with open communication. Discussing “feminism” had definitely been a success.