outerspace seeks to create an open forum that brings diverse groups of people together to participate in a dialogue about the role of art and culture within our society, the positive influence of artistic practice and collaboration, and the part of the artist in an ever-changing world full of trends, flavors, individuals and institutions. We value a noncompetitive atmosphere that inspires, changes, and stimulates different paradigms for thinking.
It was never easy for me to separate art from the other things in life that I find equally fulfilling like community and learning. Last year I launched outerspace, a community-based art and education center fixed in Central New York. Marathon is a rural town located between Binghamton and Syracuse in the northern tier of the Appalachian region. There is very little industry and room for growth, a high rate of inter-family adoptions, and the number of children receiving free or reduced lunches is astounding.
The goal of the early settlement house model was to provide social, educational, and artistic opportunities for the working class. They worked to bridge the class divide, understand poverty, and to provide immigrants with the necessary tools to acclimate to and thrive within their new territory. Considering our current political and economic state as a nation, a greater divide between classes, and as arts curriculum is increasingly cut from schools and the paucity of funding for after-school programs is tightening, I think it is becoming progressively more important to create opportunities like this for learners of all ages. When I say ‘opportunities like this’ I mean the chance for communities to have access to the arts as a learning tool, a support system that allows them to take advantage of the resources that aid in the development of the types of skills and practical know-how that artists employ, and, ultimately, acquire the capability to apply these practical skills in daily life.
Art should be accessible to folks from all walks of life. It provides necessary fodder for the mind and spirit, spurs a deeper investigation of the world around us, and has the potential to dissolve boundaries. It is the human-centered side of this issue that we are interested in and, for us, is the key to addressing some of the big issues that affect communities on a very individualistic level. The investigation of self and identity through creative expression and exploration promotes a fresh way of seeing and forms a comprehensive understanding of one’s position within their community and the world. It equips us with the devices we need to navigate through vast social networks such as intercultural communication competence. It builds the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion, and bolsters cognitive development. As a result, we gain a deeper understanding of the effects that present problems such as structural changes in government policies that influence vital social services in health care, education, and the environment have on society and ourselves.
outerspace seeks to create an open forum that brings diverse groups of people together to participate in a dialogue about the role of art and culture within our society, the positive influence of artistic practice and collaboration, and the part of the artist in an ever-changing world full of trends, flavors, individuals and institutions. We value a noncompetitive atmosphere that inspires, changes, and stimulates different paradigms for thinking. A two-year pilot project showed us that when it comes to engaging folks in art we need to bring art to them. We have designed a mobile workshop and roaming artist studio that offers a customized curriculum focused on public art that also supports artists and groups in the creation of new public works.
We have designed programs to assist students in developing the adeptness to make informed decisions with confidence, familiarize them with multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to art making and different means of self-expression, and give them the chance to consider creative opportunities that they may not otherwise have in school.
It is paramount to outerspace that students find their voice and hone the vocabulary to articulate their knowledge in a supportive environment that encourages them to communicate in spite of their socioeconomic, racial or cultural differences, or learning disabilities. The act of visualization requires students to observe, compare, discuss, and question; therefore, enhancing a student’s ability to think about their personal language within current ideas in theory and practice.