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.

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.