Summer is typically a slower more relaxed time for RE-create, Shalem’s drop in art studio for at-risk youth. However, this summer the studio was full of excitement and activity.
For the months of June and July we ran a research project in conjunction with the Resilience Research Centre, located at Dalhousie University. Our project was called “Spaces and Places” and looked at locations in the city of Hamilton where youth feel a sense of belonging and where they don’t feel they belong. The research involved the use of visual methods, including arming youth with cameras for a week to take pictures of the places they went, and following each participant around for 8-12 hours with a video camera, recording their travels through the city.
While doing this research we also applied for a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation, a local foundation that supports youth-led change in Ontario. We hoped this grant would support us in turning the momentum and energy we had generated around the “Spaces and Places” project into a year of art-making. We wanted to keep meeting with all the participants from our research throughout the year, talking about our findings and turning our data about the city into pieces of visual and audio art.
To our great delight, we received this grant, and will be starting our program, called “The Sights and Sounds of Where We Belong,” within the next month! We will be working with the youth towards hosting a large event next spring where we present the art that we have made around the theme of belonging in the city to policy makers, social service workers, and others. We want to share with those in the city who have the power to effect change when it comes to creating youth-friendly spaces in Hamilton.
The Laidlaw Foundation also gave us a small “pop-up” grant to run a fun summer event for youth who lack the funds to access traditional summer fun. One of our RE-create regulars suggested having a barbeque where we tie-dye T-shirts, so we made that happen! Over 25 youth attended our event, and dyed over 50 shirts. Youth feasted on hot dogs and snacks, and there were performances by a youth DJ and beat-boxer.
Supercrawl is a large arts and music festival that happens once a year in Hamilton, a spin-off on the monthly art crawls that have played a part in revitalizing Hamilton’s downtown core. For the past two years we’ve engaged the public on the street throughout the festival, and this year was no exception. Our two fabulous interns from Redeemer University, Kristina Jidkova and Natalie Vanderveen, came up with a collaborative sculpture based on the theme “RE-create Your Hamilton.” They created the skyline of Hamilton out of chicken wire and then invited the public to write their dreams, hopes and prayers for Hamilton on strips of fabric. These strips were then woven into the skyline, turning barren chicken wire into a colorful tapestry. The project was a great success and produced many insights on how Hamiltonians see their city.
RE-create has partnered with Art Forms, the organization that we share space with, to put on a series of movie nights for the youth in the studio space. Over the next 4 months we’ll be watching and then discussing a variety of films on a range of artistic topics, from break-dancing to graffiti.
We also have a number of art exhibitions scheduled for the coming months, in a variety of locations throughout the city.
Every fall we look forward to partnering with Hamilton District Christian High to create an art exhibit that goes on show for the November Art Crawl. This year again, the youth at RE-create worked collaboratively with HDCH to come up with a theme to work on, and then together made artwork that hangs in the final exhibit. Throughout the project, HDCH students came down to visit RE-create, and RE-create youth went up to HDCH to work in the art room at the school. For this project we also had many students from Notre Dame House School, an alternative high school participate in the project. For the last few years that we have done this project the final exhibit has been excellent, and the projects inspired cross-cultural friendships and connections.
The artwork produced during RE-create’s open studio times will be on display at The Freeway Coffeehouse, the Hamilton Public Library’s art gallery, and at 541 Eatery and Exchange in the next year. The youth will be working hard towards these deadlines and stretching their creative muscle to make it all happen! Make sure to keep checking our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for announcements about upcoming exhibitions.