The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB) is an artist-run, renovated recreational vehicle that exists as a flexible space open to community members’ proposals for alternative educational and cultural programming.

MLAB is the collaborative effort of the 2007-2008 Social Sculpture class at Syracuse University, comprised of 10 art and architecture students and lead by artist and Director of Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts of Syracuse University, Marion Wilson. Our mission was to transform a used, 1984 Recreational Vehicle Bus into a Mobile Literacy and Arts Bus for use by the Syracuse City School District and the greater Syracuse Community. MLAB serves as a physical manifestation of Syracuse University’s Scholarship in Action initiative, by pairing University resources with community needs in an attempt to address the staggering drop out rates in the Syracuse City School District High Schools. Through the School of Education at Syracuse University, incredible curricula that bridge photography, poetry and literacy currently exist within the public schools-- however due to a crisis of space, the schools don't always have the space or resources to house it. MLAB is this space. The bus serves as a mobile classroom, digital photo lab, gallery space, and community center. As a team, we did it all: demolition, design, and construction.

MLAB is made possible from the generous support of the School of Education at Syracuse University and Entitiative.

Monday, October 15, 2007

MLAB thoughts

First I'll begin with an update... I've begun working on some ideas for creating accessibility in the MLAB project. As for a quote for the press release, one can be gleaned out of the response to this question,"How does this class relate to your personal practice?"

The MLAB project is unique and there are many facets to the process of creating MLAB that are teaching us all a bit more about interdisciplinary design and the benefits of creating the bus. Not only are we working across the boundaries of different disciplines but this is also a project aimed at giving something back to the city of Syracuse in the form of a mobile arts bus and creative photography and writing course. In my personal practice I am very interested in the concept of social sculpture and creating intersections between different forms of design practice and user groups. I believe that all of the arts (including architecture) should strive to serve those members of the community who need it most. We've identified a need with MLAB for more space in the area schools and the project is providing this along with an enriching alternative learning space for the students. It's providing us, as a team of Syracuse University students, with the valuable experience of working with designers who may hold diverse interests and we are learning the value of creating community and teamwork, not only in our close knit design team, but throughout the larger Syracuse area and between the city and University. More closely aligned with my current projects in architecture I also have an interest in pushing the idea of accessibility for all students through the design of the RV.

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