Summary of C3: Meeting 4, Tuesday April 11th, 6pm-8pm
Written By: MAH Dialogue Catalyst, Lauren Benetua
On Tuesday, 4/11, the MAH hosted it’s 4th and second to last C3 meeting. Even though this seems close to the end, it couldn’t have felt more like the beginning. As we kicked off our meeting with a general introduction of Lost Childhoods to newcomers, we got a special sneak preview of the exhibition layout. Seeing the floor plan and being able to visualize where everything was going to land was our first glance at the exhibition moving from concept to reality!
We then passed the mic to Foster Youth Museum (FYM) founder, Jamie Lee Evans. In just 10 minutes, we were taken on a riveting journey from former foster youths’ stories represented by a few of the objects in their collection. Each item in their collection was donated by a foster youth, and serves as an impactful and unbridled extension of their realities of growing up in today’s foster care system. This served as a more intimate introduction into FYM’s signature exhibition which has travelled under the name, Lost Childhoods. Because this exhibition is going to take on new life with Santa Cruz local youth and artists, it was decided that exhibition be more appropriately titled, Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth! More can be read about the history of FYM and Lost Childhoods in Jeanie Yoon’s post on our C3 blog.
Then, it was time to get down to the good stuff: prototyping the artist’s projects!
Bridget Henry asked youth to help her create scratchboards made of images of various homes they lived in. Her work will use scenes and sounds of home life interspersed with animated metaphors from transition age foster youth about their experience. For this meeting, youth were encouraged to bring photos of places they have lived or have considered home to map onto their scratchboards. Once Bridget has enough from the youth, the animation process will begin!
Elliott Taylor gave us an update on the resiliency zone that he has been hard at work developing with youth at each C3 meeting. Though this is still a work in progress, we were able to reach a consensus that building resiliency is by no means a linear path, and once achieved, one hardly ever stays in a mode of quiet and comfort and must go back through hardship through the next chapters of life. With this in mind, his 3-dimensional resiliency zone must also include an area of calm. For this meeting, Elliott asked youth to help him create a mural of sorts that will be divided into sections and artistically reinterpreted by the youth to be blown up to life size and stitched together in the physical installation.
Melody Overstreet continues to source ideas that will empower visitors to take small actions. Along with this being represented in her weaving installation that will list reminders around the ‘little things’ that can make big impact, she asked youth to help prototype bracelets that will serve as reminders to visitors and wearers of their commitment to donate or lend a helping hand in some way. We asked youth and advocates alike to continue sharing their action items with us so we can effectively present it to the public, as well as brainstorm how visitors can easily make reminder-bracelets in the gallery as a takeaway.
Nada Miljkovic has been added as a fourth artist to the exhibition, who will be conducting video interviews with transition age foster youth from Santa Cruz County! We decided this was a crucial element to the exhibition so that visitors will understand that this is a youth-driven project that welcomes and empowers foster youth. During this meeting, youth were given the space to opt-in to an interview and share their stories with their own voices. Nada will continue to conduct interviews at the next C3 meeting, so be sure to attend if you are a youth who would like to share your truth!
Lastly, I had the pleasure of rounding the advocates into a huddle so we can select and prioritize community engagement plans and events-based experiences while the exhibition is open. The prior C3 meeting left me in a swirl of 100+ ideas on the table, which I was able to condense down to 8 overarching themes. With more of an understanding of these key interests, we were able to identify what else was missing, and most importantly, who would like to be a co-lead with me and the MAH to make it all happen. We identified what our engagement goals were and selected our top 3-5 ideas from each of the 8 larger themes. By the end of the night, we were left with about 15 events for us to all continually work on, together.
Buzzing from the rush of hands-on creativity of the night, we closed the meeting with a unity clap. Though we are nearing our last meeting for this year’s C3, each gathering leaves us feeling a little bit closer, truer, and warmer toward one another. We look forward to the next and last meeting on Tuesday, May 9th from 6-8pm at the MAH!