On August 11, Big Class will begin a celebration of its first three collaborative book projects through an exhibition at HomeSpace in the St. Claude Arts District in New Orleans. The books, Big Class No. 1: The Animals, Big Class No. 2, and Big Class No. 3: The 504, bring together the stories of student writers from Greater New Orleans and artists from all over the country. Big Class, the exhibition, will present the work of 59 elementary school students and 72 artists in a form that illuminates the collaborative, imaginative spirit of the projects.
In order to make this event happen, we need support from Big Classmates like you. Your pledge helps us pay for the hanging supplies and printing costs that will allow us to make this show a success for our writers, artists, and patrons. In return, you'll get some amazing work featuring our unique collaborations.
Big Class aims to place student writing in a larger community and creative context. All three projects approached this aim by infusing the traditional writers workshop model with the purpose that comes with publication and an engaged audience. The students generated collective themes and concepts, and pushed through multiple drafts before sending their work to artists. The artists then created work that could only have been achieved through the inspiration of these writers, and the books were designed to follow their content. The books are now on sale at independent book stores throughout New Orleans, a testament to the central tenet of the Big Class approach- that the students were creating real books that could sit alongside any other they read in school.
The exhibition will display the three books, their illustrations, and their photographs. The over 100 illustrations were inspired by stories written by 43 1st-graders from Lincoln Elementary School in Marrero and 16 3rd-graders from Batiste Cultural Arts Academy in the Irish Channel. The photographs were taken by the students from Batiste as part of Big Class No. 3: The 504, a book that celebrates New Orleans and features exclusively New Orleans-based artists. The exhibition will open on August 11 as part of the St. Claude Arts District’s Second-Saturday openings, remain open during the day on August 12, and close with a reading by the student authors on August 18.
The exhibition also launches Big Class’s efforts for the 2012-2013 school year. Those efforts will include publishing projects with John Dibert Community School in Mid City and ARISE Academy in the Upper 9th Ward, as well as community programs in collaboration with the nonprofit literacy and visual arts collective Press Street in their new space this fall. This work is not possible without the support of the larger New Orleans community; this event will further engage that community. By empowering student writing and simultaneously bringing people who otherwise would have nothing to do with schools to a new appreciation of them, new possibilities for student writing are approached. In this way, Big Class is working to not only help students develop their voices, but also their audience.
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