Decolonizing the Mind

by jc lenochan


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Where is cultural value?  How can visual art and literature facilitate a dialogue about public education? My concepts as an educator and visual thinker derive from conversations based upon my concerns of social conditioning and the genius that lies half a sleep on our corners and in our schools. I am seeking a minimum of $6,125 for my project “Decolonizing the Mind” which is a working title engaging urban communities in an open dialogue regarding the crisis facing public education.

My project will involve installation and performance including multiple chalkboards, some of which will be occupied by images of or relating to thought provoking questions/statements to the public regarding their youth, their views on education, their economic condition and the future of this country from their perspective. The remaining chalkboards on the opposite wall will be blank so the public can interact and respond to the work in their own voice/writing.  There will also be 20 school desks set up in 5 rows in the middle of the space. During the reception, as the public responds on the blank chalkboards, five local high school students will be disrupting the rows creating a heaping pile of school desks in the middle of the space confronting the pedagogical conundrums of the drop out rate to prison ratio, budget cuts, and the effects of educators and administrators with little to no cultural understanding of the student or the social and psychological repercussions of mis-education.

Included also will be a book/sculpture wall in the space that will involve audio from various authors who have committed their life’s work to serve as a catalyst for redefining cultural value in transforming the classroom experience, such as Paulo Freire, Bell Hooks, Nugugi Wa Thiongo. For Example: Bell Hooks in Teaching to Transgress states, “to commit ourselves to the work transforming the academy so that it will be a place where cultural diversity informs every aspect of our learning, we must embrace struggle and sacrifice.  We cannot be easily discouraged.  We cannot despair when there is conflict.  Our solidarity must be affirmed by our shared belief in a spirit of intellectual openness that celebrates diversity, welcomes dissent, and rejoices in collective dedication to truth.”  

This project will be documented in catalogue and video format, complete with images and interviews from the public in the larger Los Angeles community with a contributing essay by a curator of contemporary art. If I am able to raise my maximum goal of $12,250 I will be able to cover all costs involved including the space, materials, advertisements, assistants, transportation and shipping, distribution of catalogues for all donors of $100 or more, and authors honorariums for the catalogue. My intention is for this project to travel to 5 major cities communicating the perspectives of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New Orleans communities that are most affected by the policies of political adversaries. I recently received a grant from the franklin furnace fund to produce this work in New York and Chicago during spring 2013.

    • July 27, 2012 fausto sevila Community Member

      When a facilitator has a cultural understanding of the audience the "teaching" is a performance/dialogue in the deepest sense because the interaction is always different and un-reproducible despite the material covered.