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Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts

Directed by Marion Wilson, Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts is an interdisciplinary program in the School of Education and Partnership for Better Education. Community Initiates in the Visual arts are projects that pair University resources with community needs, specifically in the Syracuse City School District, to improve high school graduation rates through arts-based programming and community art projects.

The programs of the Community Initiatives in Visual Arts seek to carry out the mission of Scholarship in Action by increasing the access young people in the Syracuse City Schools have to the arts. Testifying to the promise of this program, it has been the recipient of several national grants.

Two projects currently in development are:

  • 601 Tully: 601 Tully is a center for engaged artistic practice that houses an international art gallery & offers neighborhood workshops. 601 Tully is a living sculpture where artists, community members, and scholars engage in the co-production of culture. The 601 Tully Design Team, taught by Professor Marion Wilson, exists in a Syracuse University class called Social Sculpture: 601 Tully Design/Build. The building was an abandoned residence that had become a neighborhood drug zone. The class (students from the School of Architecture, College of Visual & Performing Arts, School of Education, Creative Writing Program, ESF & Fowler High School) was/will be responsible for re-zoning, designing, building and sustaining the program. 601 Tully opened to the public in June 2011. 
  • Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB): 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 currently offers arts & literacy programming to 12 public school in Syracuse and functions as a pop-up mobile gallery through out New York State and beyond.