The City Studio Press project began not long ago, in 2010 from a small working group of five graduate students, including myself, and one instructor. After several brainstorming sessions, our group worked to combine personal experiences, education theories and an appreciation of artistic practice to create the plan for City Studio Press, an additional after school course offering for students in the Bay Area, through the existing City Studio model, as well as the City Studio website as a place to house all of the exciting City Studio news and events and an archive of student work. As in all public art projects, the role of dialogue throughout the planning and development stages has been integral to the success of the project.
Inspired by Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, our group sought to fill a perceived need in our community by reaching out to youth by teaching the skills of journalism and broadcasting through the lens of the artist as teacher. Freire’s text reminds us that the roles of teacher and student are indeed interchangeable, and that an open mind and open heart are imperative to the success of any educational model. The creation of City Studio Press has relied on open dialogue not only among its collaborators, but also with the members of our community. Dialogue plays a key role in this project on several levels.
Internally, the framework of the project has relied on the ability of our working group to collaborate, share individual talents and maintain open communication via emails, weekly meetings and guest speakers in order to move the planning and development forward. Externally, the group has also created a dialogue with the members of the community for the purposes of gaining trust and facilitating new relationships with artists, teachers, community leaders and SFAI administration to strengthen the project. In this way, the small group of five students and one instructor has grown into a more productive network of voices. And finally, through the use of outreach, there has been the important dialogue with the potential students of the City Studio Press: Artists as Journalists course. Site visits to each of the existing City Studio classrooms has enlightened our group to the actual experiences of working with these students. Visiting the various classrooms across the Bay Area has given us hands-on insight into the interests of the youth as well as the realistic needs of the classroom.
Ultimately, by developing the curriculum for the City Studio Press class in addition to the citystudio.org website, we hope to encourage the youth of the Bay Area to realize the potential of their own voices and to inspire them to create new dialogues with their own communities.