Taking a closer look at the Mount Vernon Shared Spaces project, I’ve tried to recall here some of the items used in the project and hopefully the videos will show up some others that made this event memorable and unique. Watch the video below, though, for a taste of the feeling during the creation of this piece- there was constant enthusiasm and activity at every stage. It was exhilirating and a little exhausting, in a good way!
There were some recurring themes in the project: namely, logos. The boy who chose the Christian cross symbol also chose the Louis Vuitton logo. Together, scholars also picked the Snapchat logo, pointing it out again and again as something that they use. The Yankees also got in there: represented by a new 3-D printed piece I’d made for this event, along with the FBI and Samsung. H&M was these scholars’ chosen brand, as it went in right at the start, and they commented on it with familiarity. This Swedish multinational retail chain is known for affordable fashion and must have a good foothold here.
One controversial object was a gun, (I have a realistic revolver squirt-gun) and it was introduced quickly: chosen by a young boy, which happened in LaGrange also. He was clear he wanted it pointing down lengthways down the flag.
One big question was about the stars: what should be placed in that area of the flag? In the end we chose three objects to go in among the stars – a football, the fairy princess wand which a Korean-expat girl had given us at the LaGrange, GA, project, and another keychain stylized star which Mr. Shore, the security guard, had been given as a service award from a previous employer. He spoke about it as a symbol urging us to reach for the stars and remember to aim high. We placed it in such a way that it surrounded and echoed one of the regular stars in t he flag.
The Coordinator of afterschool activities, Mr. Zuckerman, brought us a Gumby which makes a nice whimsical addition. It’s the sort of thing he keeps in his office for kids to fiddle with as stress relievers when they come in and hang out between classes. We all had a lot of fun moving Gumby into different poses.
An interesting logo popped up: I was curious when one of the students picked the CAT (Caterpillar) logo. This had been popular in Greencastle, Indiana as the tractors and heavy equipment are common out there, but in the inner city? “Sure, we have one on our street where they are digging up for a new building,” the boy explained. Duh! Clearly, CAT is at home wherever earth is getting moved – city or country. Digging into my own biases, I realize I’d vaguely developed the mistaken background thought that ‘my’ urban coastal bubble was all about intellectual/professional class people and a large number of low-skilled poor and service workers, when in fact there is a skilled working class all around me. This moment was a real eye-opener, one of many where I feel like these Shared Spaces experiences let me learn basic stuff about my own country.
The afro-pick comb with a Black Panther fist handle was also a popular choice, picked up early, and we talked a bit about it to make sure the kids knew it significance. Several people also picked seashells which I find everywhere I go. The detail in the shell imprints in the clay is always a source of wonder. I’m glad that with all the human-made items in these works that natural beauty is still in there via the shells.