...Collaborative youth artmaking and exhibition in the spirit of Ubuntu
Ubuntu Arts links our College and local community and provides opportunities for academic and leadership development for college and pre-college students that strengthen the students, their communities, and Wheelock.
We strive to have young people be involved, engaged, connected, and heard; and for adults to work in productive, innovative, and respectful ways with youth.
Founded in 2006, Ubuntu Arts is a yearly art-making and exhibition project that is coordinated and produced by Ann Tobey, Ph.D., associate professor, Youth Justice and Advocacy.
The projects are inspired by the spirit of Ubuntu. Loosely translated from the Bantu languages of Sub Saharan Africa, Ubuntu means "I am because you are" (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1999).
Each year we use Ubuntu in the title of the exhibit to lend thematic structure to youth groups as they work to identify and focus on personal/social topics or concerns, conceptualize their ideas, imagine and express their sentiments via the artistic medium, and prepare their works for exhibition. Because Ubuntu is about moral kinship and social responsibility, including this concept in the collaborative process also serves to create a social space in which a sense of interconnectedness prevails.
We Are: A collaborative art-making project with the Mattahunt Boys Academy
Ubuntu Arts is integrated into the Senior Integrative Seminar course, which is the final capstone for students majoring in Youth Justice & Advocacy. This experiential learning project is designed to exemplify positive youth development and requires collaboration with local youth programs, youth workers and artists. Each senior is responsible for working with a community-based group of youth, and adult mentors to organize, implement, exhibit, document, and evaluate a youth-led collaborative art-making project.
Each art-making group strives to be youth-focused and facilitators strive to engage the youth as full participants and leaders. The art projects create a vibrant network of connections among Wheelock and our students, local youth, community-based youth programs and schools, the arts community, and the broader population of viewers and supporters (please see Archive for a list of youth organizations that have participated).
Exhibiting the products of the collaborative art-making processes validate the work and make it special. All youth groups are invited to attend an opening reception at Wheelock's Towne Art Gallery, where they can feel the pride of seeing their work on display and see that they belong to a collective of young artists who have each engaged with the theme of Ubuntu and created something completely different in response. They see that they are welcome at the college, that they have something to offer, and that their voices have power and meaning in a larger forum. Meeting the youth and/or seeing their artwork allows viewers to learn from youth and encourages them to shed stereotypes and see youth in a more nuanced and positive light.
We also seek to display the artwork in additional venues, and each year some pieces are selected for the exhibit of Violence Transformed at the Massachusetts State House.