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.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


[[NYSATA Conference]]

The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB) is an artist-run, renovated 1984 American Eagle Recreational Vehicle that exists as a flexible space open to community members' proposals for alternative educational and cultural programming. Artist Marion Wilson conceived founded and directed the renovation of MLAB and the current day to day management of MLAB has been turned over to students, community members and the Syracuse city school district. The pilot year MLAB served one high school, and now in its second year, is serving seventeen schools working with Say Yes to Education, offering art, photography, and writing programming in their after-school programs, as well as with NY Gear Up, offering a conversation and creativity space for young women in high school through an MLAB developed program called Girl Talk. Members of MLAB and 601 Tully Enterprises develop and facilitate these programs.

*** Artist Marion Wilson, MLAB founder, and original MLAB Design/Build Team Members Zach Seibold, Jessica Posner, and Samantha Harmon will be there, conducting a workshop on Friday, entitled:

BEUYS IN THE HOOD: Paradigms and Problematics of Community Arts Praxis
[[Friday, November 20, 3-4:50PM]]

***Artist Mel Chin, this year's keynote speaker, will be presenting his Fundred Project. MLAB will be featured as the Nation's only Mobile Fundred Collection Site.

For more information, visit:

Monday, October 12, 2009

MLAB hosts ART 21 screening this thursday!

SYRACUSE, NY – [October 12] – MLAB (The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus) + 601 Tully, in partnership with Art21, Inc. as part of its Art21 Access ’09 initiative, presents a sneak preview of the fifth season of Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century, the only prime time national television series focused exclusively on contemporary art, from 5-8 om, October 14th, at COLAB on the Fourth Floor of the Warehouse . The event features screenings of the Compassion episode, featuring Carrie Mae Weems, an internationally renowned artist living in Syracuse. The event will also feature the Fundred project by artist Mel Chin, profiled in season 1 of Art 21.

MLAB + 601 Tully are community based, collaborative design/build projects by an interdisciplinary design group of artists and architects who create sculptural spaces to address social need. MLAB + 601 Tully projects are directed by Marion Wilson, Artist and Director of Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts at Syracuse University, and are made possible through the generous support of the School of Education at Syracuse University.

Jessica Posner, MLAB coordinator and member of MLAB + 601 Tully describes the event, “This evening has the makings of an incredible night for art, community, and public exchange—organized not only to the work of a world-renowned artist who resides in our city, but will be contextualized within the city wide art night, Third Thursday, as hosted by some of Syracuse's most groundbreaking collaborative and community based arts initiatives: MLAB + 601 Tully.” A viewing of in-progress work by the 601 Tully team, currently working to design and build the 601 Tully property on the Near West Side, will also be open to the public. This event is free and open to the public.

Art21 Access ’09 is an international screening initiative created to increase knowledge of contemporary art, ignite dialogue, and inspire creative thinking through hundreds of public screenings and events that tailor the ideas presented in the series to the interests and concerns of local audiences. The season premiered on PBS October 7th with a new episode each Wednesday during the month at 10pm (check local listings). Through in-depth profiles and interviews, the four-part series reveals the inspiration, vision and techniques behind the creative works of some of today’s most thought-provoking artists.

This event is part of Art21 Access ‘09, a celebration of contemporary art and Season 5 of Art:21-Art in the Twenty-First Century sponsored by Art21. Art21 Access 09 is held at over 300 museums, schools, libraries, art spaces, and community centers and is organized in collaboration with Americans for the Arts’ National Arts and Humanities Month. Visit for more information.

EVENT DETAILS: Thursday October 15th, 2009 from 5-8pm at COLAB, located on the fourth floor of the Warehouse, 350 West Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13202-1202.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Please check out our BRAND NEW flickr online photo album, compiled by Sam Harmon, Kauffman Engagement Fellow, Say Yes Superstar, and MLABer extraordinaire! It includes select images from each of the Syracuse schools that MLAB has visited has part of the Say Yes to Education Summer Camp! It contains images of and by rising 1st-4th graders with whom Sam, MLAB, and myself have worked this summer:

Also, please check out Sam's blog. It is a work of art:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

click on the image for the MLAB Live! flier!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MLAB @ SculptureCenter this Saturday!

click on the image to enlarge, for description and schedule of the Sculpture Center Event THIS SATURDAY, JULY 18th!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

MLAB Says Yes!

Tomorrow, MLAB starts our residency with the Say Yes to Education Summer Camp! Sam Harmon, Imagining America Fifth Year Engagement Fellow and original MLAB team member, and I will be traveling to six SCSD Elementary Schools working with many fabulous Say Yes campers!

Check back soon for more updates throughout MLAB's Say Yes summer!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

MLAB @ Sculpture Center July 18!!!!

Clear your calendars, kids! MLAB will be at Sculpture Center in Queens, NY on July 18th as part of their current exhibition, The University of Trash. The July 18th program, which MLAB will be a part of is entitled

"The University of Trash presents:
Architectures of Crisis/ Architectures of Resistance"

We'll be sharing the bill with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (!!) and Teddy Cruz (!!!!!!)

click on the image to be take to the Sculpture Center website and schedule for the day!

Damon Rich, Block Buster, 2008. Animated neon sign. Photo: Lite Brite Neon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MLAB Radio Live!

MLAB Radio is Live! Please visit the MLAB Radio website to listen to moving, honest, real, and truly inspirational audio pieces by some of Syracuse's finest young adults.

MLAB spent four days at Nottingham High School in early June 2009 outfitted as a recording studio, where students worked in pairs to record their audio pieces inside the Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB). Participating students in Ms. Zizzi's and Ms. Benedetto's ninth grade English classes based their audio essays on the NPR's "This I Believe" contest.

Later this summer, MLAB Radio will go live on Redhouse Art Radio, so be sure to check back often for more MLAB Updates!

Below are some images from the MLAB Radio recording sessions:

Thursday, June 4, 2009



BALM: The MLAB Zine Volumes 1 & 2 are now available for download online!

Please go here to download!

Volume 2 has just been sent to press, and we are hoping to distribute hard copies to the Nottingham artists/writers once we get them in the next week or two!

MLAB Radio at Nottingham

This week and next week, MLAB is back at Nottingham this time doing a RADIO workshop with ninth graders from Ms. Zizzi and Ms. Benedetto's second period English classes. We are recording "This I believe" essays to be uploaded to the Redhouse Art Radio Station. Please Check back for more info soon, when I will be uploading images and audio from our first ever MLAB Radio project!

Please visit for more info on Redhouse Art Radio and some really excellent arts programming!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MLAB on MacJannet Website

A few weeks ago, MLAB was selected as a finalist for the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. Since then, MacJannet Prize website has profiled MLAB along with other finalists.

Check out the profiles here.

Congrats and good luck to all projects as you continue your inspiring work!

Thanks to everyone that has helped make MLAB possible!

Click on the picture below to see the MLAB profile in the "Domestic service-learning or course-based programs" section of the MacJannet Prize site.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

MLAB and How Radiant is the Sun...

MLAB will be holding a showcase of MLAB projects and activities, in tandem with the How Radiant is the Sun... Opening Reception.

Please join us, and see all of what we've been up to... all in one place, but for one night only!

Thursday May 7th, 2009
5-7 pm
Syracuse Stage
Irving Ave.
Syracuse, New York

Projects include, but are not limited to:
  • aRTshopPE: selections from an event staged in the Near Westside Neighborhood by Marion Wilson's SCU 300/500: Artist as Entrepreneur class
  • The Lake Project: selections from the work of Sarah McCoubrey and Marion Wilson's SCU 300/500: The Lake Project class on Onondaga Lake
  • Alphabet in Your Own Back Yard: Artist books and images from Professor Gail Hoffman's 2-D foundations collaborations with the Syracuse City School District
  • Sibylline TXT Syracuse: a city-wide text based installation by Architecture Professor Anda French.

click to view larger image!

How Radiant is the Sun if It Hides Behind the Clouds

Please come celebrate the incredible work of the the students from the spring semester that worked with MLAB and the Syracuse University TRM 300/500 and ENG 650 classes!

The opening reception, How Radiant is the Sun if it Hides Behind the Clouds, is:

Thursday May 7th, 2009
Syracuse Stage:
Storch Theatre Gallery

Syracuse Stage is Located at 820 E. Genessee St. Syracuse, NY.
Please enter the gallery on Irving Ave. Street Parking is available.

Please click the invitation to view larger!

Friday, April 24, 2009

MLAB in the news!

MLAB was selected as a finalist for the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. Read about it here.

(Also, please check back soon for more images and updates from Nottingham High School. It has been a great semester, and Jessica will have them posted up soon-- things have been so busy! We look forward to the final show at Syracuse Stage on May 7, 2009. Please add it to your calendar now, and check back soon for more updates and details!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Hello, all!

Please be on the look out for MLAB on the TH3 route tonight. MLAB will serve as the hub for SU Architecture Professor Anda French's Sybilline TXT SYRACUSE project for the evening!

MLAB will be at the Redhouse from 5pm-7pm, and then at the Community Folk Art Center from 7pm-8pm. Be sure to visit MLAB, as well as travel to all of the TH3 venues (and more)!

Sybilline TXT SYRACUSE: website, SUnews press release, Post Standard article.
The Redhouse: website.
Community Folk Art Center: website.

See you there!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

MLAB: Nottingham High School, Syracuse New York

Hello All! And welcome back to the MLAB blog.

We have been very busy working on developing a future MLAB project, of which more information will be coming soon!

We are off to a great start at Nottingham High School this Spring Semester! We are working with two eleventh grade English classes, the students of Ms. Zizzi and Ms. Benedetto. The Nottingham High School students are working with the SU Literacy, Community, Photography class made up of creative writing and transmedia graduate and undergraduate students-- taught by photographer Stephen Mahan and Poet Michael Burkard.

The students are doing incredible work, and appear to be making themselves quite at home with the MLAB-- spreading out on our customized, break-away benches and using the custom made lap desks/cushions both as seats and writing surfaces. It is exciting to again see the space come alive with the energy and creativity of students transforming the walls and space in their creative process.

The first writing assignment was to write a self portrait in the absence of the self. Students explored points of view, personifying objects such as pencils and cameras. In photography, students also worked on self portraits. The work is off to a great start, and I truly look forward to seeing the work of these students develop over the semester!

Stay tuned for more updates and developments on MLAB at Nottingham and the new MLAB project: 601 Tully.

Attached are a few images from our first two visits!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Last Week, several members of the MLAB Team (Jessica, Vince, Zach, and Samantha) accompanied Marion to MassArt in Boston for a lecture and workshop with SIM (Studio for Interrelated Media) students. We were invited by Kianga Ford, whom we met as the Artist in Residence at the Warehouse Gallery in Syracuse, New York. In addition to the Thursday lecture and the Friday workshop, we also put up a show of Marion's work and images and ephemera from MLAB in the Godine Family Gallery. On behalf of the whole team, I'd like to express our sincerest gratitude to Kianga, Allie and Evan (student curators), and the rest of the SIM area for making our trip welcoming, engaging, and an overall incredible experience. Thank you. We look forward to working with SIM and MassART again in the (hopefully near) future.

Following are some images from the show, lecture, and Friday morning workshop class. During the class, SIM students worked collaboratively to spacialize social issues/problems within the Boston community using architectural chalk lines. Students addressed such issues as dark pathways in parks, stray cats, noise pollution, and access to information and technology.

The Audience!

Zach at the Lectern.

Jessica and Marion hang the Show.

SIMers check out the MLAB wall of images and ephemera.

MLAB wall.

MLAB friends discuss near Marion's work.

Sam and Marion in the installation view.

MLAB @ MassART: workshop images

Zach and Vince with Kianga Ford's SIM class.

Marion (Left) and Kianga (center, in earthy sweater/turtleneck) with the SIM class.

Board of Social Issues and Skill Sets

Terms that are both psychological and physical.

Zach and Vince giving architecturally colored feedback.

Student project dealing with access to information, modularity, convergence, etc.

Student Project addressing dark pathways in the Fens.

Noise Pollution solutions?

Stray Cats.