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.

Friday, October 19, 2007


As expected:
The 10x10 porcelain steel (magnetic dry erase board) sample arrived today.
It bends!
and it comes with a reliable adhesive backing.
Lighting will effect its color dramatically.

As unexpected:
So I called the manufacturer again today to follow up on some questions and spoke with a different tech person. Turns out we cant just layout a template on a 4x8 sheet and have it cut. Seeing as two people at the company told me two different things, I asked to speak with a third person and figured out what was going on. There is an incredible story of inefficiency and waste that I can share at a later date about why this is the case; it involves a very very large pile of scrap porcelain steel sheets in Temple Texas and maybe another sculpture/design project. The good news however, is that we can supposedly cut the stuff ourselves with the metal sheet shearer in our shop. We should test cut this thing tomorrow, Saturday. I could figure out how to use the machine, but does anyone already know how? Or can we contact Ron? Any suggestions.. call me.


Roslyn said...

vince this looks lovely! how bad was the light change/effect? I am so glad we're using it! too bad we couldn't get some of that wasteful scrap for free!

Vincent said...

we will be able to predict/ control the way lighting effects the material .. so its not a bad thing in that sense. It will be great for projecting because it produces such a high contrast.

cazhog said...

If it's the same tool, we used it to cut the floor pans. It's very easy to use. I might be able to get my hands on a pair of hand-held electric metal shears. Let me know.
It would be interesting to see if we can bend it with the metal brake as well....then we could make some interesting shapes (e.g. window/door trim or edging).

Vincent said...

we will be able to bend it pretty tight. I havent tried to crease it yet, as I want to cut it first.

what did you guys use to cut the floor pans? i couldnt find anything in the shop to cut it clean with. also, the jigsaw had gone missing and there werent any finetooth metal blades for it anyway. there is a pretty large metal shearer at the university physical plant down towards the end of comstock. I was going to try and go there monday morning right after 9 and see if we could use that.

bye the bye, who is Cazhog? are you David?

cazhog said...

Yes cazhog is David..long story about a pig. The sheet metal shear is opposite the large metal brake and drill press. It has a single pedestal leg attached to the floor and a long handle. You've probably walked by it dozens of times without noticing it.

M-Lab said...

Vince, I am in the shop tomorrow from 11:30 on and in the shop all day Tuesday and am happy to show you the metal shearer David is talking about. If there is anyway I can get my hands on the material tomorrow morning - even if you are busy - I can talk to Ron and Steve about all of the possible ways to work with it that they have in the shop- in case you are unable to make it to Comart yourself.

To echo Roslyn was there anyway that we could use any of the scraps?

I guess cutting it ourselves gives us a little more flexibility. Can we still order it tomorrow - I am back in Syracuse and can help with my credit card.
It could be nice that it changes with light I imagine.