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 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.

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