Rachel McIntire and Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein: “What good was any of this gorgeous theory without recognizing the way it interplays with life beyond academic borders? ”
From the CAN Network:
Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein, a community writer and educator from Chicago, and Rachel McIntire, a muralist and multimedia artist from California, spent a year immersing themselves in theories of Arts in Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. At the same time, they embarked on a collaboration with Bread Loaf writer Mary Guerrero and her mostly Latino after-school writing group at Oliver Elementary School in Lawrence, Mass to use body-mapping and poetry to explore cultural crossroads.
During the Mapping Within workshop, young artists compose an interpretive dialogue about identity through an exploration of text, performance, world maps, audio and photography.
“The idea of a map emerged as the ultimate metaphor for the journey of understanding self as influenced by fluid geographical, spiritual, political, academic, social and emotional landscapes. We decided to use maps as a central part of the art making because it was both visually and metaphorically powerful. By sharing notions of both interior and exterior maps, we hoped to express identity as organic as opposed to fixed. We also hoped that…artists would begin to notice the ways in which they construct and narrate their own stories and that identity is often in constant conversation with place and space.”
Outline of McIntire and Lichtenstein’s “Mapping Within” process:
1. Begin with Questions like: Who am I? Where do I come from? and Where am I going?
2. Connect with bodies, breath and memory through theater exercise and warm-up.
3. Explore the “ shapes” of different emotions and transform those shapes in slow motion
4. Discuss memory, movement, migration and change, and identify significant personal memories.
5. “Locate” these memories in your body.
6. Participants make full-body cut outs of their bodies using butcher paper and maps that they later manipulate through collage and text.
7. Explore movement and change through creative writing.
8. Break into pairs and embellish the “body maps”. for example: visually locate text within body cut-outs.
9. While students work in pairs with their “ body maps,” record students reading their favorite poetic lines from the writing exercise.
10. Students take digital snapshots of one another as “ portraits of the present tense.”
11. Create an “exhibition” of the body maps, poetry, photos and recordings
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