800,000 Acknowledge. Remember. Renew. is a commemorative memorial for the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. I worked on the piece as my MFA thesis work at Penn State, making it with the help 100's of volunteers - click to view - between 2004 to 2006. The project is now taking its next step as a part of the United Nations 20th Anniversary Commemorative events for Rwanda.
This is where the project is heading in June.
As a second year graduate student, I was completely unaware of Rwanda and the event that transpired in 1994... and was shocked that I'd missed it in education. So a large part of the piece is the educational component where people learn about the genocide by engaging with the work.
How did I connect to Rwanda?
People were engaged on every level of the project...and it started by folding paper. 40 crates of paper were needed, and to start the conversation, I held 'fold-a-thons' to fold and collate the paper into the signatures needed for the books.
The crates - form and function.
The crates worked nicely as a way to transport the piece as well as add that sombre nod to caskets. I enjoyed making these...process ... process ... process.
Education = Schools needed involved...
Part-workshop, part-manufacturing...students from 5 Pennsylvania high schools (State College, Bishop Guilfoyle, Grier School, Bedford and New Kensington) and one in Virginia Beach (Salem High) participated in making 10 crates (250 books) each. They received a "kit" of materials - precut chipboard, rolls of twine, pre-stacked, collated and spine cut signatures, and a clamping system to glue the spines together.
Completing the books...
Along with the 6 high schools, 3 teams joined in for a "Binding Day" for a final push of production of the books. Stacks of signatures, oodles of glue, and chipboard covers...750 books were assembled.
Where has it been?
Once the installation was made, the next stage has been to show it. Since 2006 its been:
More images, the initial exhibition catalog and a list of all the volunteers can be found a the project website: www.EightHundredThousand.info
Thinking Beyond the UN...
$8000 is our goal to make the UN display happen, but beyond that I'm looking to take this show on the road and display in other venues for people to see, learn, respond and engage in making a difference.
- $15,000 - add a show at Crane Arts in Philadelphia or similar venue.
- $30,000 - add the second show for 2014, and look at purchasing a box truck and branding it for the work to tour more easily, cutting costs down for educational, private and public institutions to bring in the installation.
Lonnie was instrumental in shifting my thinking to view art as a means to solve basic needs. I recall the graduate seminar where he spoke on his African/American garden arts project...where he brought Kenyan women to teach the underprivileged in Pittsburgh to really grow food, creating sustainable gardens...which continued long after he'd stepped out of the work.
I thought..."That was art?" It burst my notion of what art making can be.
He was on my thesis committee during graduate school and was a great encouragement throughout the entire project...and continues to be.
Risks and challenges
Getting help moving. I'll be gathering helpers to install and deinstall the work in NY.
Promotion - Having the right outlets for promotion for the work...again...its great to have a show, but the point is for people to engage with it.
For fulfilling the backer gifts, it will take sometime to produce the book, photos and other gifts, so thanks for patience as we get those to you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)