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.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Opening Reception:
December 15th, 200 5-6:30pm
Syracuse Stage: Storch Theatre Gallery
Syracue, NY

Please click on image to view full invitation in seperate window.
Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Hello, All!

Hope all is well! Marion, YunPei, Samantha, and I (Jessica) are back from New Orleans... and ready to finish out the semester! Sadly, there are only a few more Fowler visits before the semester is over, but MLAB will soon be working on the BLAM! zine (little magazine of student work) for the final Fowler LCP (Mr. Luwin's First Period Class w. Stephen Mahan, John C., and their class) Gallery Show at the Warehouse coming up (very quickly!) in December. More Details to come soon.

I would like to encourage all of our readers/members/fans/friends/followers to please subscribe to our new EMAIL LIST SERVE! I've just set it up, and am currently ironing out a few wrinkles, but will be sending an update every few weeks with MLAB's activities and whereabouts. There is a sign up box on the right hand side of this blog (below the NEW MLAB interior photo): just add your email, click the button, check your email, and then simpy reply to the message sent to you by the MLAB list serve. You can also just send a blank email to:, and you should get subscribed!

I've been fooling around with some of the features on MLAB's blog (like SLIDESHOW!), so please check them out!

If you have any issues, questions, or comments, please feel free to leave a comment, or contact me at


Here's a small video clip from a Fowler High School session two weeks ago. During a discussion on Slam poetry, one of the students (Angel: right side of screen, second from front, wearing white hooded sweatshirt) spontaneously started playing the wooden benches, using nothing more than a pen and his hand.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MLAB @ Colgate!

Hello All! Hope you survived the first snow of the season... it was a blustery one last night!


Zach, Vince, and Jessica will be delivering a lecture on the collaborative nature and process of the MLAB project, as a part of Colgate's Art and Art History Lecture Series. It starts at 4:30 and will be in Golden Auditorium, Little Hall.

For more information go here, Colgate website.

Hopefully the weather will turn for the better (and stay that way) so that the bus can come along as well!

Hope to see you there!


In other News:

Marion is already in New Orleans preparing for the Prospect One Biennial! I, along with YunPei and Samantha will be joining here there tomorrow to work with Marion and her gallery, KK Projects, over the opening weekend of the Biennial.

More information on the biennial, check out the [P.1] website.

Also, Check out KK Projects website!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Open House and 40Below Summit!

We've had a very exciting week at MLAB! Thanks to all of the students and parents that came out Thursday evening at Fowler High School's open house night. It was great to have you and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

We've just wrapped up our participation at the 40Below "Exposed" Summit today. We partnered with the Community Folk Arts Center, parked next door, and met some amazing people and made some good connections. A special thanks to Cjala and everyone at CFAC, we look forward to working with you more in the furture! And a warm thanks to everyone who came in to check out MLAB today! We saw nearly 50 people today, many of them very creative and active individuals in the Syracuse Arts Community. I spoke with several people today that had many, many exciting ideas for making artwork with and about our communities, and we look forward to collaborating with you in the near future!

Also, I am currently working on putting together an MLAB list serve. If you are interested in getting periodic updates and information about MLAB sent directly to you, please email me (Jessica), at with "MLAB list serve" in the subject line.

Will be posting images from the events soon, (I apologize, I've gotten a little behind with updating the blog with all that's been happening), so check back soon and often!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Wigged Monument!

Hello Everyone!

As some of you may know, in addition to being MLAB Coordinator, I am also an artist. A public art piece of mine, "Wigged Monument," located in Forman Park in downtown Syracuse, has recently made a bit of a splash in the local Syracuse media. The Syracuse PBA is unhappy with the placement of the sculpture, and Syracuse University is currently working the Police to resolve the issue peacably.

Watch the WTVH CBS-5 video.
Read the Syracuse Post-Standard articles one and two.
Read about it on and on

Thanks to everyone for your support! See you at Fowler on Thursday!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Going Home

Thanks to everyone who came out to make MLABcafe at the Redhouse a huge success! We had many guests who had an opportunity to see MLAB as a community space and it was wonderful. Not to mention, the lovely work of Michelle DaRin and Melanie Littlejohn. The new pull-apart-puzzle benches (designed by Zach, realized by Steve Ginsberg) look fantastic and really add to the space, providing four additional modular seats/surfaces. In addtition Thanks, again, to all the MLABers that came out, the Redhouse, and OF COURSE our friends and supporters—with whom none of this would have been possible.

The work coming out of Fowler High School is fantastic.

Today, and for the first time, the LCP (Literacy, Community, Photography) students at Fowler high school were sent home with digital cameras to document their away-from-school lives. I am incredibly excited to see the work generated by this bright group of young artists, and to have a chance to encounter their lives as they see it. I know this is cliché, but with the great freedom and trust Professor Mahan and Colosacco are providing for these young artists to write and photograph how and what they want, there is also a HUGE responsibility. As a filmmaker, I know that responsibility: the responsibility of crafting your reality in a way to let other people in—but only as far as you want. It’s a huge responsibility, and an important lesson to learn, especially in this age of myspace, facebook, internet dating, and second lives. We are all complicated beings, with many sides and (sometimes) faces or names. How is it we want the world to see us? And how is it we see ourselves? Can the two exist together? Should they? Ultimately, how do you show someone else how you see things? This is your opportunity. And I speak for myself, as well the SU students and faculty when I say that we can’t wait to see what you have to show us.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fowler images

Creative Writing section inside MLAB with Mr. C (back, standing) and Mr. Lutwin (front right in blue).

MLAB at Fowler High School.

Irene, Fowler student, working in her journal inside MLAB.

Unique, a student at Fowler, sharing her short story with the class.

Mr. C at the front of the class!

Peering in!

Mr. Stephan Mahan happily signing out digital cameras.

SU student reviewing photos with Fowler student.

Busy at work, photographing outside MLAB on a nice day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

MLAB Cafe @ The Redhouse!

I know a blog update is long over due, so I do apologize, but the MLABers have been sick. However, we're on the road to recovery, and tomorrow we're on the road to the Redhouse!

MLAB will be presenting "MLAB Cafe" at the Redhouse. We'll have coffee, pastries, as well as the work of some local artists and students, from 11-2pm preceding Redhouse's fabulous "Eaten Heart" matinee. We'll be parked across the street from the Redhouse, on the corner of Fayette and West St.

Redhouse Arts Center
201 s. West St.
Syracuse, NY 13202

Please come check it out!

(And a special thanks to Marion, Steve, Zach, YunPei and Sam for getting things ready for tomorrow!)

Our Beautiful Postcard by YunPei.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Fowler Finally Gets a Break."

What an exhausting (and successful/exhilerating/supremelyclimactic) few days it has been.

MLAB set sail on its maiden voyage today, spending its first full day at Fowler High School in the Syracuse City School District. It was also my first day driving the beast by myself (with thanks to Tom Salmonsen!), and to great relief and with the release of an incredible load of anxiety, I am happy to say it went very well and I am looking forward to our next quickly approaching adventure.

Today we saw three classes: Mr. Adam Lutwin's 11th grade English class, and Mr. Eric Williams; Art Class and Photography Class. We had nearly 70 students come through the bus today, many of them skeptical at first (it is, after all, a trailer, right?), and many of which seemed to slowly warm up to this space that was designed and built for them by students not much older than themselves. Definitely an interesting cast of characters to watch; I'm pretty excited to see our MLAB narrative unfold, and see the work of these young artists develop over the course of the semester.

I'm also forward to working with Lutwin and Williams. They are incredibly supportive and excited, identify with the uniqueness of this venture, as well as with their students, and provide the absolutely necessary link to making a program like this work. Like I told some of the students today, "Our job at SU is now largely done. We've designed and built the bus for you, its your job now to get creative and make work."

I also want to send out a huge thank you to everyone at Fowler, especially Sue Centore who has been central; as well as everyone at the Partnership for Better Education (David Morgan, Susan Feightner, Sheila DeRose, and Len Fonte); and of course Stephen Mahan, John (Mr. C), the SU students, and of course Marion.

On a personal level, I'm energized about coming back to Fowler and seeing what these young adults are made of-- how they reflect and portray themselves through images and words. Furthermore, this is an opportunity for their creative endeavors (and themselves) to be taken seriously, an opportunity that arises far too infrequently fore most of us. I also really enjoy teenagers, mostly because of their uncanny ability to immediately pinpoint boundaries, rip them apart, and expose the seams which we so often attempt to conceal and control. As unnerving and uncomfortable as this can sometimes be, its a constant reminder of how fragile and tenuous we and our relationships are. It's also hard being a teenager, located right between the frustrating boundaries of rules and responsibilities-- with escape either nowhere in site, or somewhere on the radar, yet just out of reach. Being in the one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, which Fowler is, doesn't make it any easier, either.

As an artist, I'm also supremely interested in seeing how the people we designed MLAB for will end up actually using it. And I'm not sure really if we, the MLAB team, composed largely of middle and upper middle class backgrounds, ever fully realized the gravity of this project-- because I didn't until today. We have taken an RV, a classic symbol of middle class up-and-out-ward mobility, removed everything except the shell (which we also transformed) and filled it with considerably very little: thoughtful walls, floor, and ceiling; some cameras, books, computers, printers, and a whole lot of ambition. And we've driven it over, and more or less handed it over with a new charge to a school that rarely gets a break: make.

I look forward to this pilot semester at Fowler, and will be giving a blog update after each of our visits (once or twice a week through thanksgiving).

Jessica AKA "Miss Lady"

P.S. Pictures will be added shortly!

Other Things to Look out For
- We will be going to Henniger High School this Thursday with Gail Hoffman, an SU Professor and fellow Kaufman Foundation Enitiative Recipient.
- MLAB Cafe will have a limited engagement at the Redhouse in two upcoming weekends (more info to come soon!)
-MLAB at Fowler 1-2 days/week for the next 3 months.

MLAB Team Updates
- HarPeiPo (Samantha, Yun Pei, and Jessica) will be participiting in PARKing day on the corner of Jefferson and Franklin downtown this Friday from 8am-5pm, sponsored by 40 Below. Please come check it out! For more details on PARKing day, go here.
- Check out Jessica's sculpture Wigged Monument in Forman Park on Gennesse St. near the Renaissance Hotel. Look for the black obelisk with the blonde wig.
- Jessica, who is serving as the MLAB Co-Ordinator, was recently married to Anirban Acharya, PhD candidate in Political Science at SU.
- Check out Vince's progress on his cross country bike trip here.
- Marion is thrilled MLAB is up and running! She is teaching a class about the Lake this semester (which Sam and an Yun Pei are in) and is thrilled to be working in her studio again.
- Zach is diligently working on his thesis. He enjoys living accross from a coffee shop. His shoulder continues to heal. In his spare time, he is consulting with Marion on the logistics of her newest project.
- Zach, Vince, and Jessica will be delivering a lecture on MLAB at Colgate Univeristy in late October. See them on the schedule here!
- Marco is working hard in studio, and was part of the team that built a large hand sculpture now installed downtown accross from L'Adour.
- Roslyn, after her successful run as co-founder of Contemporary Gallery in Syracuse, headed off to New York City to earn a Masters degree in Arts Administration at NYU. Read about her gallery here.
- Other MLABers, please either send or post updates of your own!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Welcome back!

Welcome Back, everyone!

It has been quite a while since our last update, but MLAB and its team members have been very, very busy. Since we've last left off: several of us graduated, the rest are wrapping up; two have gotten married; one has left for a cross-country bike journey; many have moved on to different pastures, and some of us are still here bringing MLAB into the next stage of development.

Marion and Jessica are busy working on getting MLAB up and running as an organizational entity, now as the official Director (Marion) and Co-ordinator (Jessica) of MLAB. We even just moved into an office down at the Warehouse! With just a few finishing touches still left to complete, we are definately ramping up to pilot MLAB at Fowler High School in the very near future! In addition, MLAB has a few other appearances coming up which we will be updating to the blog as details become finalised.

Check back soon for more details and announcements about MLAB's progress, awards, and news!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Thanks to everyone today that made M-Lab at Mayfest a great success! We had a constant flow of old and new friends to M-lab, as well as community poem started by Poet Michael Burkard and a community drawing started by Sarah McCoubry.

It was a great time, and really nice to see everyone on such a nice day! It was also great to spend time in the bus, such a beautiful, warm, cool, and nice space to hang out, talk, and be creative.

Thanks again, all!

Good luck through the next few weeks!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Going Green

Check out this website for using corn oil instead of fuel.
What do people think. We could talk to the Center of Excellence.

Also Jessica can post the Mayfest schedule today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

M-LAB in the DO

The Daily Orange, the student run newspaper at Syracuse University, ran an article today about M-Lab written by Newhouse sophomore Will Halsey.
Thanks, Will!


Lecture tonight

Hello Everyone - (from Photo Professor Laura Heyman)

Artist and Curator Daniel Seiple will be giving a lecture on Tuesday,
April 15, at 7pm in 121 shaffer. Please come!

Dan Seiple is a Berlin-based sculptor and curator with an interest in
performance and site-specific works. He has exhibited internationally
at The Markus Winter Gallery, Berlin, M29, Cologne, Momenta Art,
Cynthia Broan Gallery, White Columns and Apex Art, New York, NY,
Outpost, Norwich, England, and will be included in the 2008 Berlin
Biennial. Seiple also runs a gallery space, Homie, http:// and a sculpture park and residency program,

Below is a recent project from Skulpternpark.


Skupturenpark Berlin_Zentrum presents SPEKULATIONS #1:

Grand Opening!
The Single Room Hotel
a sculpture by Etienne Boulanger

Sunday, November 18th, 4 PM

November 2007 - March 2008

Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum is pleased to announce the grand
opening of The Single Room Hotel, an affordable 2-star hotel made by
artist, Etienne Boulanger. Contained within four walls of billboards,
the hotel offers a modestly lavish and cozy interior including
electricity, heat, and hot water. The hotel is centrally and uniquely
located on the grounds of Skulpturenpark in Berlin-Mitte. For the
sophisticated traveler and everyday adventurer, it is within walking
distance of nearly all of Berlin’s most significant tourist
attractions. The hotel will be open from November until March.
Reservations can be made through the website provided below.

The Single Room Hotel sits on the corner of one of the few remaining
blocks of vacant land in Mitte. Property fences and billboards are
the only standing evidence of the land’s ownership and economy. Upon
visiting Skulpturenpark, the hotel blends in with this landscape.
From the outside, the hotel is a 1-story construction of billboards.
Boulanger has leased the hotel’s façade to advertising companies.
Consequently, the billboards provide not only the hotel’s
architectural possibility, but also its economic sustainability. With
the added revenue, the hotel can offer affordable and competitive
rates. Yet while the billboards serve their typical purpose to draw
attention to themselves, they conversely offer an urban camouflage
for the hotel and its guests to go unnoticed.

The Single Room Hotel evolved out of Boulanger’s previous work, plug-
in, a series of investigations into Berlin’s urban and public
architecture. From 2001-2003, he explored and inhabited unused,
discreet, and obscure spaces throughout the city. In one instance, he
domesticated a surprisingly big crawl space behind an advertising
sign in the U-Bahn station. He later moved into an enclave in a
bridge’s concrete foundation. The spaces often required subtle
modifications, such as building a cardboard wall, in order to
camouflage his infiltration. With The Single Room Hotel, Boulanger
has now added a commercial twist. Collectively, the projects avoid a
cliché utopian and alternative model to urbanization. Rather, they
present practical and everyday strategies for maximizing public
space, and provide a way to live within and without the system.

The Single Room Hotel will be open from November 2007 until March 2008.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

M-Lab gets on the Bus!

M-Lab is part of Imaging America's "Get on the Bus" program. Thanks to Roslyn for helping make this happen!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thanks, POMCO!

Thanks, POMCO, for all of your support!


New Times Article

Check out this article about M-Lab in The Syracuse New Times!

New Times

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring Preview!

Chancelor Nancy Cantor (right) and VPA Dean Anne Clarke (center) with Yun Pei (left) inside M-lab during the Spring Preview at Nottingham High School this Thursday. The Spring Preview was a great success! Thank you to all that came out to show your support!

Coming Soon: more images an updates from the M-Lab Spring Preview.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Preview Thursday


In case you haven't read it yet, here's an excellent article on M-LAB that went out on yesterday's SU News wire.

It's very comprehensive, and does a great job of explaining both the whole and parts of the project. Oh, how I love gestalt!

Give it a read!

SU News

Saturday, March 29, 2008


A many thanks to all of our volunteers who have made a huge impact on helping towards the big preview this week! We can't thank you enough, thanks again to all for your help and support!!!

We had an incredibly busy day today. At one point, I think we had a dozen people doing various tasks. These are just some of them:
(I know I'm going to leave things out, so please add on...)
Ramp unrolled and set up
Major upoholstering (only two left... Thanks Anita and Ms. Harmon!)
Cushions affixed to wood backing/faces
Agreggate door installed
Super ceiling installed
Dozens of ceiling tiles sorted and cleaned!

Again, thanks to all that have those that have helped out. We couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Red Pillows

Let's all bring a red pillow to sit on at our table!
Apparently there will be name tags but no assigned tables so first one there - grab us an MLAB table!

Chancellor's Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship

Here is a link to the press release with the announcement containing the award our class recieved.

SU News

Also, updates on cushions:

Thanks to Charlotte and Yoni who did a knock out job on helping out. And a GENERAL OVER ALL THANK YOU TO ALL VOLUNTEERS! You are making a big difference, your help means so much to us and the project! THANKS!

The cushions are coming along! They are gorgeous and red and very comfy and textured. Thanks to Stephanie Liner for her help and master class on upholstery!
We're at about a half way point, and working towards the preview!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dress Rehearsal Monday March 31st

Who can do/wants to do a dress rehearsal/ drive over to Nottingham High School Monday morning with the RV. 9am.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Things are starting to come together...
Saturday night:
Monday Night: