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Social Histories Through Art

Social Histories Through Art

June 30, 2014

Interactive, engaging and empowering — this is Social Histories Through Art — an organic community building process that has the possibility to do one or more of the following:

  1. To engage schools and communities in exploring current problems, possibilities and opportunities within their communities through dialogues and one-on-one interviews.
  2. To have students, teachers and community members document the stories and histories within their community, to learn from these stories, and then to share these stories (through art, print or radio).
  3. To be the creators of an inspirational and powerful work of art to be shared and honored within one’s community.
  4. To be part of a large collective that honors the diversity and richness in one’s community, province, state or country.

How do we do this?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      First and foremost we work with El Movimiento Artistico Hermanas Mirabal (MARHMI), one of the largest art collectives in the Caribbean. Several of the members of this collective are considered to be among the best muralists in the world, having painted close to 400 murals. Through a partnership with Transcending Borders, we have had the privilege to collaborate on the production of 28 murals painted in the Dominican Republic and the United States. Examples of murals painted in the DR and the US can be seen in this short video:

The process created by Transcending Borders for this project is simple. First, we create partnerships with K-12 schools, Universities, non-profits and other community groups. Once the partnerships are established a local leadership team (with 3-8 people) is created. This team serves three purposes: 1) to determine the history, event or issue that will be explored 2) how this event will be documented and who will gather the material, i.e, what material needs to be gathered, will interviews be conducted, who will do the interviews, what additional research needs to be gathered, who will conduct the interviews, will interviews be transcribed and if so, by whom and then, 3) to determine in collaboration with the community, what will be honored in the art exhibition and what type of exhibition will be created (a mural, script for a play, documentary, song, text, etc?

MARHMI together with Transcending Borders will assist in this last component with the ultimate goal of bringing forth the possibilities and potentials within one’s community – to create an inclusive, vibrant community.

Examples of recent Transcending Borders projects, created in collaboration with MARHMI, is a mural painted on the front of a school in the village of La Cumbre, a mural that highlights the voices of farmers and day laborers. After discussing the challenges in their community, they chose to focus on the solution to these problems, which they saw as education. The second mural was painted in collaboration with the high school in Oja de Agua, through a series of dialogues addressing environmental concerns.