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.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Very Special Thank you

Our design brought us back out into the community. Working to create an aggregate wood floor meant we needed to collect a lot of wood scraps. Marion and Zach took on this job with ferociousness (help from Jessica and Roslyn too) and before you know it we were inside the Stickley Factory. A special thank you to Andrea Audi who has a special interest in the arts and literacy for making generous amounts of cherry and oak to us. They had more wood than we even knew what to do with. Thank you also to National Grid, Melanie Littlejohn and Jim Conway of the Forestry Department for generous amounts of OSB and to the Redhouse for getting us started with basement scraps.

We have spent the last two weekends laminating strips together to make the studs for below 24" of the walls of the bus. When the wall panels are pulled away to reveal the cushions/writing tablets you will see these gorgeous aggregate wood studs. We are now beginning work on the floor and altho there is some confusion about 24foot strip and half inch wood "boards" bundled into piles, Samantha, Yun Pei, Jessica, Arjan, and Julia are working hard to figure it out.

Committed to making bus accessible to all from the very beginning got Nicolette thinking creatively about solutions and a trip to the Chancellors office by the whole group is going to make an aluminum ramp possible. A special thank you to Chancellor Cantor for her continued enthusiasm for this project!

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