The “Ubuntu Arts” Projects

Each year, beginning in 2006, Ubuntu Arts has gathered groups of people together to collaborate on the conceptualization, implementation, and exhibition of art-making projects that give voice to social issues of concern to youth.

Housed in the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy Program at Wheelock College, and coordinated by Ann Tobey, Ubuntu Arts seeks to create opportunities for learning and growth for Wheelock students, local youth, youth serving organizations, and a wide community of viewers and participants.

Our initial exhibit in 2006 began as a spontaneous collaborative project that was created primarily by adults. Life Worth Remembering: Images From Four Street Memorials used photography and digital art to depict memorials erected on the streets of Boston in memory of individuals age 21 and under. We came to understand that this initial project represented a statement of the problem, and our subsequent projects strive to be part of the solution. Our goal is now to facilitate collaborative art-making projects by youth, a process by which people can work together creatively, identify issues, and imagine solutions. In this process of learning by doing, participants build competencies and assets for themselves and their communities.

Youth work together in small groups at their host organizations where they work closely with college liaisons, adult mentors and artists. Groups consider the theme of Ubuntu, they debate, discuss, make decisions and choose a particular issue or message of focus. Youth are considered resources in this process, they are full participants and valued decision makers… they wrestle with issues of identity and community and ultimately focus on solutions to the issues of concern. The finished products symbolize and depict their ideas and the messages that they would like to share with viewers. Youth prepare their works for exhibition, craft artist statements, and serve as ambassadors for their projects during the reception and subsequent events where their work is showcased.

Ubuntu Arts has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with Violence Transformed since 2006, a collaborative network that has helped to create a broad range of venues and opportunities for youth and viewers. Ubuntu in the Works!