Sorenson Unity Center is a special place to the students, staff and families here, and it is an important part of the community in Glendale. Many of the students’ claims in our classes refer back to Sorenson and the feeling of ownership they have of this space.
There are many spaces to create art at Sorenson, and all have the potential to reflect the love, community devotion, playfulness and hope for the future that YouthCity students express when developing different ‘claims’. My hope is to fill as many spaces as possible with art!
It is a precious gift and huge responsibility to work with youth, to try and create art that truly reflects the community in a real and honest way. My biggest community art inspiration is artist, educator and community activist Judith Baca. About community art, she says, “I want to produce artwork that has meaning beyond simple decorative values. I hope to use public space to create public voice, and consciousness about the presence of people who are often the majority of the population but who may not be represented in any visual way. By telling their stories, we are giving voice to the voiceless and visualizing the whole of the American story while creating sites of public memory.”
This idea of creating sites of “public memory” is supported by our ‘Claimit!’ framework, and it has been an exciting challenge to not only talk to students about public art, but to also work to empower them to began to think about themselves as public artists and spokespersons for their community. They ARE Glendale, and it is a beautiful place.