Thursday, September 28, 2006

field trip

what a rough, tough day it's been. how sad, and how surreal, to watch my government "debate" torture. in the end, the republicans won and bush got what he wanted: a congressional mandate to torture human beings.

luckily, this afternoon, we in digital democacy had a field trip!

we've been reading tv reed's the art of protest. last week, we read chapter 4, "revolutionary walls: chicano/a murals, chicano/a movements," which, as the title suggests, traces the many intersections between chicano/a murals and latino/a social movements.

i've always been a big fan of field trips - they are excellent learning experiences and it's always a good thing to get off campus and into the community. so on tuesday we decided we'd spend thursday in the mission. most of the students took the bus from usf (the 33); one student lives in the mission and got there in minutes; it's a 15 minute walk from steiner street to valencia, so i hoofed it.


we met at the women's building (always a sight to see). we took some time to soak it in and then started sharing our connections between the building's murals and what we learned from tv reed: that the central figure of the mural is a woman; the way the murals depicted women of various races and ethnicities; the way the murals blended indigenous culture, recent chicana/o history, and contemporary struggles and achievements; how native and western healing practices were depicted side by side. one student noted that one woman in the mural was in a wheel chair; another pointed out that the women in the murals ranged from infancy to grandmotherly; one student read, word for word, an audre lorde poem featured on the left side of the mural; and another student pointed out that all the muralists were women. i observed that one of women in the mural held a sign saying silencio = muerte, shared what that meant, and began thinking about next week's reading - reed's "ACTing UP against AIDS: The (very) graphic arts in a moment of crisis."


then we headed east to valencia and north to clarion. walking around the mission is always fun but it's extra fun when you do it when you're supposed to be in class.


clarion alley (history, google images, flickr) stretches from valencia to mission. it is full of murals - all kinds of themes, messages, sizes, and levels of artistry. we walked down the alley like a museum - sometimes alone, sometimes in twos and threes, and sometimes as one big slowly walking mass. without a doubt, the coolest thing for me was when i saw students pointing out to other students details in this or that mural: students teaching students.


on our way out of the alley, and on to our way to pancho villa, we passed this masterpiece - the favorite among many of us.


what a perfect mural - fists of fury meets feminism - painted by female teen muralists. students had a lot to say about this one and one student asked the same question i was pondering: "who's phoolan devi?" i love this mural and what it says
    emma goldman: her weapon: pen of poison

    rosa parks: her weapon: full fare bus ticket

    phoolan devi: her weapon: code breaking

    mother theresa: her weapon: relentless compassion
and, painted on the woman in the middle,
    everywoman: her weapon: rising up
later, early in the evening, sarah and i were at home watching the news. the torture bill had just passed. today, torture became officially legislated as an american value. it's been a rough, tough day but at least i have work that matters.

we'll need to plot a second field trip real soon.

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4 comments:

Ivan Chew said...

Now that's a mural with a message!

hilary said...

i think the class could be persuaded to venture off campus together during a weekend-day, completely outside of class time. that situation also takes the pressure off having to Actually learn anything. ahaha. no really though, we are all probably game and field trips are worth that while!

david silver said...

ivan: i totally agree. one day, when you visit sarah and me in san francisco, i will take you to see it.

hilary: nice idea. i definately think that another field trip is in our future. let's plot something in class.

Anonymous said...

the fists of fury mural is dope!