On September 19, 2012, Frist Art Museum educators launched a teen community art project called Stop. Take Notice! Inspired by contemporary artist Carrie Mae Weems, teens from Martha O’Bryan Center’s Top Floor program, Nashville Public Library’s Main branch Teen Center, the Oasis Center’s International Teen Outreach Program, and the YMCA Latino Achievers, worked with local teaching artists to create art pieces installed at each community partner organization.
Teen participants and facilitators from their sponsor organizations met with Carrie Mae Weems and learned about her socially motivated community art project Operation Activate. The teens explored the exhibition Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video and discussed how the artist addresses questions of race, gender and identity.
Following their gallery experience, the participants shared their perspectives and identified concerns facing their communities.
Working closely with teaching artists Chris Cheney, Michael Lapinski, and Laura Wallace, teen participants brainstormed potential art materials and themes to create their interactive artworks.
Each of the four artworks was designed to be manipulated by viewers, inspiring them to connect with the art and think about the topics being addressed. Artworks were installed at each of the community partner organizations to engage their neighbors and bring awareness to relevant community issues.
At Nashville Public Library’s Main branch, Teen Center participants from Hume-Fogg High School met with puppeteer and performance artist Laura Wallace to create life-size sculptural pieces which communicate the pressure to be perfect and maintain a facade of flawlessness in daily life.
Artist Chris Cheney and participating teens from Martha O’Bryan’s Top Floor program at Stratford High School printed more than five hundred fine art paper cards and attached them to the wall to create the backdrop for a life size tree silhouette. The teens carved movable wooden leaves with messages that address topics related to positive and negative life choices.
Oasis Center participants from Cameron Middle School worked with graphic artist Michael Lapinski to address issues related to violence and its impact on their community. The teens used papier-mâché to create personal symbol piñatas. At the end of the project, the largest piñata, representing the earth, was ceremonially broken into pieces and reassembled to represent the loss of members of the community due to violence.
At Cane Ridge High School, printmaker Chris Cheney and YMCA Latino Achievers participants assembled a sixteen foot long collagraph block. The teens designed and cut out the block with symbols to represent their school community. A sixteen foot print was made by inking the block, laying paper over it, and then walking and stomping on the paper to create the printed image. A set of alphabet letters was printed using linoleum blocks to allow viewers to spell out the issues impacting their community.
In response to the four art projects, teaching artists Cheney, Lapinski, and Wallace will reinterpret the artworks for the Frist Art Museum’s Conte Community Art Gallery.
Pictured: Printmaker Chris Cheney (top), Performance artist Laura Wallace (center), Artist Michael Lapinski (bottom)