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.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

As its moved into a new year I feel compelled to sign in with an update.

First let me assure you all that just because we haven't been updating does not mean that we have not be busy. In fact, it means quite the opposite. In the last month and a half each member of our team has seen more wood and wood glue that ever thought possible. Happily, though, this has resulted in a beautiful almost complete butcher-block-like wooden floor surface. Major work continued through finals week and beyond. As we all need a break from even the best of projects, we'll only be returning a week early to start again on our beloved M-Lab.

Thanks to Vince and Matt, we have the beginnings of our handicap accessible door with off-set, sexy hinge that makes the word liminality come to mind- see pictures from previous post. The framework of our printer/generally useful cabinet is also in the process. Nicolette has been our electri-goddess placing our breaker box in the most amazing places. The Posner-Harmon certified wood machine team has been cutting up our long wooden strips and making them into the frame of a wall inserted holder for our hidden pillow-pull out floor cushion/writing tablets. Yun-Pei also offers his hand to this project and many others helping us fabricate models for our intense poofed plastic ceiling tiles. Marco has insured that our bus is hole-free and each metal pan is tight. Julia and I have been busy making aesthetically pleasing 8 ft. long and 3.25 inch wide planks for floor use and Arjan and David Harris have been giving us whatever time they can spare from their day jobs. And of course, Zach and Marion have kept us all in order and very busy!

I believe that I can speak for the whole when I say that our New Year's resolution is to get this bus done! We've all been happy with our progress and teamwork during this last semester but we're really looking forward to celebrating our public opening. We've also been granted one of our biggest wishes- the ability to include handicap accessibility and our green solar power unit into the budget! Its been a great year and a rewarding project. Though next semester we won't be a formal class, each of us will attempt to contribute as we are able. Many will be continuing through independent study and more on an individual basis. In any case, I believe we can look back on this last semester proud of what we've created and know that there is much more to come in for our M-Lab in the future.

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