SIGN UP FOR FREE WEDNESDAY NEWSLETTER: Full name, please
I agree with the Terms and conditions

Your View

Your View is YourArlington's only blog. It is the site's place for opinion. To publish here, you must use your full name in most cases.
Font size: +
6 minutes reading time (1248 words)

Student banner process explained

A second joint statement -- submitted by Cristin Canterbury Bagnall and Stewart Ikeda, cochairs, Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture (ACAC) -- includes clarifying details about the process and timeline involved in approving and choosing the banners. An earlier statement is below.  Students and parents involved declined a YourArlington request to discuss the art anonymously but asked to let the works speak for themselves.

ACAC logo

The Youth Banner Initiative encourages development in the visual arts and offers an opportunity for students in grades 6 to 12 to be part of Arlington’s public art programming. Funding is provided by the Gracie James Foundation in memory of Gracie James, a talented Arlington High School student who found solace and joy in the arts.

Each year since 2016, teens living or attending school in Arlington have been invited to submit designs for banners. The Youth Banner Initiative is a collaboration between the Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, a town committee of citizen volunteers which serves as the umbrella organization for town-related arts and culture activities.

This year, questions have come up about the Select Board approval process for the banners. ACAC applied for the use of the light poles in December 2020, and as part of that process shared the 2021 theme, "PROTEST: LIFTING VOICES." ACAC also shared images of the 2020 banners, identified as the 2020 banners, because the 2021 banners had not been juried yet.

In early January 2021 the Select Board approved ACAC’s use of the light poles for the winners of the Youth Banner Initiative. The jury process took place at the end of January 2021. The winning banners were not available at the time of Select Board approval.

'Total transparency'

It has been suggested that there was deliberate intent to dupe the Select Board into approving the banners sight unseen. This is not the case. As soon as the winning images were requested by the Select Board, in March, ACAC provided them. At no point did anyone associated with ACAC act with anything less than total transparency.

It is important to understand that the images that students created and that were ultimately chosen by the judges to become public banners this year reflect our student artists’ commentary on national and international events that they witness in the news and in public discourse almost every day. These images were not intended to criticize individuals or organizations in the Town of Arlington. We value and respect the important roles that the Arlington Police Department and all first responders serve in our community, and do not believe that anything in the intent or content of the Youth Banner Initiative suggests otherwise.

It is our belief that one of the roles of public art is to catalyze conversation, even, sometimes, uncomfortable conversations. We are proud that Arlington is committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected. Through the Youth Banner Initiative, the Arlington Public Schools and ACAC work together to create one forum for middle and high school students to be heard in the civic space, and we are grateful for the Select Board’s support of that work.

We look forward to continuing the conversation this year’s Youth Banner Initiative has opened up. We also invite and encourage everyone to make their voices heard through two current public art programs, Heights Haiku and Reflecting on our Pandemic Experience with artist-in-residence Nilou Moochhala. Learn more at artsarlington.org.

Student banner initiative defended

The following joint statement on the 2021 Youth Banners Initiative was submitted by Adria Arch, Cristin Canterbury Bagnall and Stewart Ikeda, Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture and David Ardito, K-12 director of visual art, Arlington Public Schools.

ACAC logo

The Youth Banner Initiative encourages development in the visual arts and offers an opportunity for students in grades 6 to 12 to be part of Arlington’s public art programming.

Funding is provided by the Gracie James Foundation in memory of Gracie James, a talented Arlington High School student who found solace and joy in the arts. Each year since 2016, teens living or attending school in Arlington have been invited to submit designs for banners. The Youth Banner Initiative is a collaboration between the Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, a town committee of citizen volunteers which serves as the umbrella organization for town-related arts and culture activities.

The theme unanimously chosen by teachers and staff for the Youth Banner Initiative 2021 was "PROTEST: LIFTING VOICES."

Youth want voices to be heard

APS students this year stepped up to design strong images about social, environmental and economic justice, protection of our Earth and its creatures, peace and love. The artwork from this year’s students demonstrates the issues that matter most to our students, and to many in the community. These banners serve as a reminder that our youth are watching us, reading, absorbing and thinking about their lives and the world that they will inherit. They also want their voices to be heard now. We celebrate them for wanting and needing to do that.

The art teachers and organizers of the Youth Banner Initiative gave the students freedom to create images based on the theme of protest and lifting their voices. Students crafted their submissions, in most cases, as part of their art class participation. Designs were submitted to the competition during the fall and were juried by three Arlington-based arts professionals, Laurie Bogdan, Molly Scannell, and Rob Davidson.

The jurors of the Youth Banner project all agreed that the work was visually strong. These images express the students’ feelings and concerns and do not necessarily represent the town, the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture or the Arlington Public Schools.

'Not intended to criticize'

It is important to understand that the images that students created and that were ultimately chosen by the judges to become public banners this year reflect our student artists’ commentary on national and international events that they witness in the news and in public discourse almost every day. These images were not intended to criticize individuals or organizations in the Town of Arlington. We value and respect the important roles that the Arlington Police Department and all first responders serve in our community, and do not believe that anything in the intent or content of the Youth Banner Initiative suggests otherwise.

We understand that citizens have questions about the process by which these banners became part of the civic space, displayed on light poles in the center of town, and will be addressing those questions in further statements in the coming days.

We are enormously proud of our creative students who are willing to lift their “voices” and who use visual art to express the things that are most important to them. And we are equally proud of the art teachers who understand that art is a vehicle for this kind of self-expression and who encourage their students to raise their strong young voices to do just that.

Visual art education can and should be a path toward social inquiry, dialogue and honest commentary.


ArtsArlington: 2021 Youth Banner Initiative


This public statement, which includes opinion, was published Saturday, April 17, 2021. Note that the link to the initiative, above, includes one showing a police officer and a protester, which led to discussion on social media. A second public statement was published April 22, 2021.

Agree? Disagree? Your comments are welcome if you include your full name. Follow through in the Comment window below.

Location (Map)

×
Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

8th graders call for changes in town bylaw to boos...
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Saturday, 20 July 2024

Captcha Image

Your Business

Housing Authority