Journal of Pirate Lingo*


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07.17.02 - 10:33 a.m.

When Angi was taking her art history class-- or photography class? I don't remember-- she told me about this artist, Harrell Fletcher, who gave a guest lecture one night. I recommend you check out his site-- it's beautifully designed and it demonstrates the breadth of his work. Among other things, he does a lot of site-specific installations and civic art.

Anyway, I remember going to his website after Angi told me about the lecture, and looking through pictures of his different works. And just today it clicked in my head-- I've been biking past one of his pieces every day on my way to Rockridge BART! I knew it looked familiar.

In Motion Magazine: What do you do in the community?

Harrell Fletcher: This is always a tough thing for me to try to describe in words. I do a lot better with my two carousels of slides.

I have to go back a ways to when I was in graduate school about seven years ago at California College of Arts and Crafts. I got frustrated with what I felt was an inaccessibility between the art that was being shown and the general population. I was having difficulty myself relating to a lot of things I was seeing in galleries and museums. I wanted to address that by figuring out a system that people who didn't have art backgrounds could relate to and interact with contemporary art...

[W]e began to work with a local middle school and do projects with kids there. We became artists-in-residence at the school through a California Arts Council residency grant. Once again, we did things that were very specific to that school. It was a magnet school and students came from all parts of Oakland. This neighborhood was getting gentrified. New residents weren't happy that the school was there. So, we did a piece on the outside of the building that said this school has been here since 1913 - giving precedence to the school. That piece is still there. It has been there for five years.

The school had been re-done in the '70s because of earthquake retrofit. It didn't look like an old building. With the students, we did a painting on the outside of this new building of what it had looked like in 1913. We did several pieces like that to claim that neighborhood for the students and give them a sense of ownership. All the stores had signs up that said, "No students allowed." Or, "One student at a time".

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