Feb 3 - Oct 1, 2023
Visions students create their first collaborative installation in the ArtReach Space by including text in their artistic practice to communicate their stance on finding unity.
Words are powerful. But just how powerful are they in shaping culture and determining human behavior? How do words affect us differently when they are spoken over the phone or face to face, written as emails or text messages, or read as public signage? In the age of hashtags, limited character usage, and memes, words have been cut down to a bare minimum. Yet few poignant words around our collective understanding of the world still strongly influence our perception of truth.
These quick and compelling communication hacks are familiar to adolescents who are reemerging after experiencing their first years of high school in a pandemic. When school and social life suddenly transitioned into the digital realm, social media became pivotal for communicating with the outside world. As many of us experienced, the distinction between fact, opinion, and fiction became further muddied over the course of quarantine, creating social divisiveness on a global scale. Words demonstrated an uncanny ability to divide. But how can they be a powerful tool for unity?
Advanced high school art students in the Visions program took a closer look at this idea when Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation asked them to identify words and phrases that helped them heal and unify after an isolating and divisive time. Working alongside co-curator and artist Kristin Bauer, whose work is featured in the exhibition Language in Times of Miscommunication at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), students learned how to use text in their artwork in order to interact with or disrupt public spaces. con·text presents the resulting collaborative installation by these students, demonstrating the powerful effect of words on adolescent perseverance.
Artists include Nick Jirov, Cyrus Juby, Ava Martinez, Mackenzie Mayer, Arshia Nasr Azadani, and Piper Zall of Chaparral High School (Desiree DeVirgilio, instructor); and Jessie Armenta, Isabel Elizalde, Citlalicue Flores, Jhanyla James, Shyra John, Lillian Lawrence, and Aliza Valentin of Central High School (Cecily Cano, instructor).
This exhibition was organized by artist Kristin Bauer and Brittany Arnold, community engagement manager of Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation.