The Billboard Generation 

Community project

Community project
“What would you like to tell your community?” the sponsors of The Billboard Generation project asked. A group of fifth-grade writers and artists from Minnie Hartman School 78 answered by assembling a collage that was erected last week on the R-Bistro building, 888 Massachusetts Ave. Another will be on display across the street at 922 Massachusetts Ave. Six others from area students will be mounted soon in Indianapolis and Bloomington throughout March.
The Billboard Generation project was sponsored by and is part of National Youth Art Month in March. Art teacher Rose Feeney said the students studied and absorbed the works of collage artist Romare Bearden and story quiltist Faith Ringgold, who would create images on a quilt and then write stories about them in the margins. “This is our version of a story quilt,” Feeney said. And indeed the image tells a story, a dichotomy of peaceful moments versus chaos, safe harbors versus gang violence. On the afternoon the display was raised, one by one the students who wrote the descriptions in the margins read theirs aloud, in small but clear voices shivering slightly in the cold. “My neighborhood is quiet and safe, but sometimes people steal things,” Montanea Daniels read. “But other than that I think my neighborhood is a good place.” “My neighborhood is peaceful and quiet. At night you can almost see all the stars,” Samantha Quinn read. Damoneisha McCawley’s words were the most direct and affecting. “My neighborhood is not safe because I can’t go outside to play hopscotch. I can’t even go in my backyard. This is because of gangs and guns. My neighborhood is so so so so so so so unsafe!” Shana Berger of said that the purpose of the project was to give children a voice. “The idea behind this is that kids are such a targeted demographic in advertising, and rarely do they get a chance to express themselves in such a public place,” Berger said.

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