Last Spring, in a hallway at City College of New York, I ran into a former student of mine named Carolina, a cheery young woman who participated in a summer mural project I led a few years ago and is now an undergraduate student. I asked her something like “Did you learn anything during our mural project, that you currently use today?” She seemed a little thrown off by the question, but brightly responded that the project was a really positive experience for her in many ways. I am always curious what comes of the work that we do in art education, how is it remembered? What value do students take away from the experiences us educators painstakingly curate for them?
My name is Max Allbee and I am a visual artist and educator from San Francisco, California, now in New York City. I specialize in drawing, mural painting and printmaking, yet being a teaching artist has always been an integral part of my creative practice. I’m in the Masters of Art Education program at CCNY and currently I’m working on my thesis project which comes from my experiences doing community mural work that has helped to form my career as an artist and arts educator working with various arts organizations in NYC and with Precita Eyes in San Francisco before moving here. I’m interested in collaborative public art projects with teens, and my research is to try and find out what are the outcomes of projects that involve these two elements.
Brett Cook is an artist and educator I’ve referenced for inspiration for this project because of his expert uses and articulates of collaboration in the realm of public art. Like Brett and other artists who work in this field, I aspire to create meaningful and powerful experiences for youth to take away life skills they can use in other areas of their life. My thesis project is a chance for me to get to the root of the type of projects I love, by talking to people who have done them. The best part of my project so far, is that I get to talk to former students of mine (like I tried to with Carolina) and other young people about their experiences doing collaborative public art. I’ve found that this is a vast and multifaceted topic that I will surely never fully grasp, and at the end of this project I will surely have more questions.