Community Project Proposal
Instructor Jenny Venn
April 9, 2015
Completed by Nicole Lamer
- Describe your community. You may be a part of many communities: church, school, neighborhood, youth groups, town, or social organizations.
Describe the community to which you are closest.
My community is a very eclectic one. The minute I moved to Lawrence, I immediately felt right at home. This town is a cultural melting pot, largely due to the university here. I like to think of this town as a meeting of the minds, with emphasis in education and learning. It also has a strong artistic base. Art is a binding agent that draws together people of all types. Additionally, the town of Lawrence is a liberal one. Many of the people here are widely accepting.
I am a part of a church community. I am part of a volunteer community. I am part of an advocacy and support community for disabled individuals. I am part of a parenting community. I am included and not judged. I am part of a community that thrives on acceptance, expression, and knowledge.
- What are the shared experiences and events in your community?
A majority of my time is spent with my church and volunteer community. We thrive on weekly connection and meet three or four times a week. My particular church and volunteer community aids homeless families by providing temporary housing, food, and jobs. My art community is also connected to my church. Projects are completed by individuals and brought together to complete larger series. I enjoy being included in this, as it interweaves all of my interests.
- What common goals do you and the people in the community share?
My volunteer and church communities work at providing assistance, in many forms, to homeless families. Our main goal is to maintain this involvement with an organization called Family Promise. We meet to serve and pray over families who, for a number of reasons, have nowhere to call home. I believe that this will be an ongoing, lifetime commitment that will never end.
- What stories in your community need to be told?
My community has a large percentage of homeless individuals, but more specifically, a large portion of homeless families struggling to get back on their feet. Lawrence is one of the most expensive cities to live in within Kansas. This is mostly due to the student housing market, but anywhere else, a family could find a home that suits them at $500 to $1000 a month. Here, the cost of renting is doubled, making the average rent payment around $1600. I don’t think my community realizes the struggle of the lower to middle-class individuals and families that aren’t here to attend college.
- How might individual, group, and community stories be told through art work? What type of community art project can you propose to tell said stories?
I believe that artwork is a powerful tool and those in my community already realize the importance of art. Similar to the posters done by Hugh Merrill, I think photographing the families and doing a “Faces of the Homeless: Family Edition,” would be so awesome. For the sake of originality, however, my own proposed project would be to have the families with and without homes make collages. The collages would define the families and what is important to them. The collages would have a photo (or photos) of the family members. With a large variety of families participating, I think the collages should be displayed so the community can view the collages. With that said, the viewer will not be directly told which families are homeless, but a statement along the lines of, “Out of all 10 (or 20 or 30) families, half of them are homeless.” I think that showing the community all of the families that contribute and are included, but depicting how we all have the same goals, hopes, wants, desires, passions, etc, is important. I think that too many people assume that, “Well, they’re homeless. They must be on drugs,” or, “They’re homeless. They must not know how to manage their finances.” I think the world needs to see that, homeless or not, we all hope for the same things. Being homeless doesn’t make you less intelligent or less driven or less important. We’re all just doing the best with what we have.
In contrast to my ideas for educating my community on the homeless population, I think that the special needs population is also another area that deserves more respect. Being born with a disability is not a choice. I believe that my community focuses on the disabled population, but only because it’s a research project. Since the 1980s, the University of Kansas has been instrumental in researching and understanding physical, intellectual, and behavioral disabilities. I think doing the same concept with a handful of the disabled individuals I work with, would be exceptional. I work with several disabled individuals that are incredible artists. Looking at their artwork, you would never know that they struggle each day to fit in and be accepted. I think displaying a self-portrait or original piece of work would be a great way to educate my community on how unique and talented the disabled population is.
- Is there a sign, symbol, ritual, or story from these questions that could act as a central metaphor & logo for your proposed community art project?
The volunteer and church community aside, I would still feel for this group of people. I think that a simple logo could be a house.
With the disabled population, a logo of two friends embracing would be an excellent way to describe their agenda in one glance.
- Are there opportunities for you to support and expand upon local craft traditions with your proposed community art project?
I am unsure of many factors for my proposed project. Would the homeless families want to participate? Would a few weeks be enough time to complete a project of this magnitude? Would participants complete their pieces in a timely and serious manner? I wonder if seeing this project in completion would be possible at all. The same concerns exist for the both groups.
- Discuss the idea that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What aspects of the community environment do some members of the group find beautiful that others do not? Can those who find something ugly see it in another way?
My community finds beauty in real life. My community finds beauty in differences. With such a diverse group of individuals, this community does accept many, but I still think there is work to be done with the groups I focused on. Being homeless or disabled doesn’t make you ugly, but so many view it as a negative. I believe that our differences are what make us beautiful.
- Who could you partner with for this project?
All of the communities that I am a part of could be possible partners.
- Where could this proposed project take place or be displayed?
The project could be displayed in one of our many art galleries and public spaces, however, I think digitally, this artwork has the potential to see a larger audience.
- Who would you like to reach in this project? Who would you like to see or be educated by this project?
I believe that everyone should be included and understood, regardless of where they are at in life. Many of the things that occur to one’s self, are outside one’s area of control. I think showing the community that these “situations” are actually people who shouldn’t be judged based on things that may not have been what they planned or wanted for themselves.