In partnership with Boston University
Banner Art: Ron Wilhelmsen
Virtual Academic/Community Partnership Group Exhibition
April 15-May 31, 2021
Director and Lead Curator, Ubuntu Arts, Youth Justice & Advocacy Program, Boston University, Wheelock College of Education and Human Development
Community Center Sites:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro South – Brockton Clubhouse
Chelsea Police Department & GreenRoots
Teens Art Council, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Massasoit Community College, in collaboration with New Heights Charter School, Early College Program (Digital Music Production Class, sections VY1 and VY2)
Randolph Union High School, Randolph, VT (Racial Justice Course)
TALKING ABOUT UBUNTU: THE YOUTH SPEAK
UBUNTU ARTS 2021
Collaborative Youth Art-Making and Exhibition in the Spirit of Ubuntu
Each year, beginning in 2006, Ubuntu Arts has organized groups of young people, college students majoring in Youth Justice & Advocacy (YJA) and adult mentors to collaborate on the conceptualization, implementation and exhibition of art-making projects that give voice to personal and social issues of concern to youth in the Boston area and beyond.
Ubuntu Arts, housed at the BU-Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and led by Clinical Assistant Professor, Ann Tobey, seeks to create opportunities for learning and growth for YJA students, local youth, adult mentors, youth serving organizations and a wide community of viewers and participants. Ubuntu Arts partners with Violence Transformed to bring exhibits to multiple venues around Boston.
Ubuntu is a Sub-Saharan African worldview that is about the interconnectedness of human relationships and can be loosely translated as “A person is a person through other persons” or “I am because you are.” Ubuntu Arts projects create a framework and a unique process by which people can work together creatively, identify issues, imagine solutions, make art and exhibit art. In this process of learning by doing, youth participants build relationships, competencies and skills for themselves and their communities.
Our YJA seniors facilitate the groups and strive to empower youth to become full participants and valued decision makers throughout the project. Youth work together at their host organizations where they work closely with the college liaisons, adult mentors and artists. Groups consider the meaning of Ubuntu, they debate, discuss, negotiate, make decisions and choose a particular issue or message of focus for their piece. Each group works collaboratively to choose a medium and a form for their art-work and together they engage in the process of art-making.
This year was especially challenging for collaborative process and art-making due to the restrictions and hardships posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although our timeframe for group process was radically shortened, youth groups managed to meet virtually and in person, discuss their projects and prepare their works for virtual exhibition. Both the pandemic and Ubuntu reminded us of the essential importance of our connections to one another.
The finished products shown here symbolize and depict the ideas of the youth and the messages that they would like to share with viewers. As you will see, social justice and racial and economic equity were at the forefront of youth concerns this year. We are very thankful to Violence Transformed for giving us a platform for youth voices during these unprecedented times.
Ubuntu Arts 2021 is proud to include projects from youth and youth groups at the following organizations:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro South – Brockton Clubhouse
- Chelsea Police Department & GreenRoots
- Massasoit Community College, in collaboration with New Heights Charter School, Early College Program. Digital Music Production Class, sections VY1 and VY2
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Teens Art Council
- Randolph Union High School, Randolph, VT. Racial Justice Course
Ubuntu Youth Arts/Community Center Projects
About This Exhibition
Ubuntu means…I am because we are
Ubuntu is a worldview that comes to us from the Bantu language groups of Sub-Saharan Africa, and was introduced to us by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa during his visit to Wheelock College. He describes it as a spiritual philosophy that represents “The essence of what it is to be human.”
In contrast to a sense of self that is reflected in a philosophy of “I think therefore I am,” Ubuntu declares, “A person is a person through other persons,” or “I am because you are.”
When a person is said to have Ubuntu, she is known to be generous, hospitable, friendly, caring, compassionate, humane, forgiving, and fellow feeling….
Ubuntu offers us insight into our personal and collective identities, our relationships with others, and how we might aspire to live in ways that best support ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities.
Through the Ubuntu lens of human identity, we see that each of us belongs to a greater whole and we value the responsibility that interconnected beings share for the wellbeing of one another and the environments that sustain us.
Positive actions reverberate throughout community (as do negative actions), and Ubuntu helps us appreciate that “What hurts you, hurts me, and what heals you, heals me.”
Individually and collectively Ubuntu helps us choose to create opportunities that serve to uphold the humanity of all and to transform and transcend violence.