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, August 20, 2015

Moss LAB at IHAD

UPDATE! This month, Marion Wilson was honored to participate in the I Have A Dream foundations national conference in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The I Have A Dream foundation (IHAD) mission is to provide "long-term support to children and youth living in under-resourced communities to achieve their full potential, by promoting from an early age, values of higher education and career success, with opportunity guaranteed through financial resources, and other services." Their branches are scattered throughout the country, including (but not limited to) Boulder and Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, and New York City. IHAD works to provide their student dreamers with long-term support and resources to meet their educational and professional goals.

IHAD was introduced to the MLAB MossLAB project several months ago and began to imagine ways that it could be utilized by their students across the country. As of early this month Marion and IHAD have been working hard to build a curriculum that can be used at schools in over fifteen states. The MLAB MossLab project was presented to the IHAD affiliates at this month’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia, during which Marion introduced MLAB's history and how it will be designed and used in the not so distant future. First, Marion introduced IHAD to our dear subject, Moss. 

We handed out small moss samples to groups of two and had them write an illustration of what they saw.

After finishing writing , they placed their sample on the table and handed their description card to another group who was instructed to find that sample based on the descriptive illustration they had been handed. 

The results were amazing.  Many of the groups were able to find their match and the descriptive writing exhibited both poetic musings and clinical observation. It was easy to see how this simple exercise increased our sensitivity to the subject and ways of looking closely. Many were inspired enough to start drawing the samples and a few even spent our break looking for moss outside the conference hall that day.