The Art & Justice Project > Finding Art in Life: Xanthi, Greece

Finding Art in Life: Xanthi, Greece
January 24 – January 27, 2019: Xanthi TechLab
This project was a collaboration between Rachel Moore and Dr. Tatiani Rapatzikou. It began with the intention to engage youth in the town in which they live through learning about the town’s history through personal storytelling and interviews, art, technology, and community building.

The activities we were able to do exceeded our expectations and included the following:

Teaching, writing and presenting haiku poetry, collecting oral histories and completing oral history projects, contemporary art presentation related to public art and mapping, private tour of the Folk and History Museum and interviews with the staff, photography, tour of Xanthi on foot, collecting objects, sound, and images for the digital and physical artistic maps, interviewing one another, creative writing exercises, art demonstrations on collage, painting, and paper casting, curating artwork, creating a physical collaborative visual map collage of Xanthi, creating photographs with haiku responses, learning about the digital map, presenting an exhibition that was a culmination of all of the activities and projects in the form of an installation with sound, a collaged map of Xanthi, a digital map with oral histories, sound, images and points of interest, paper cast objects, and photographs with haikus.

This project was successful in that it fulfilled all of the goals set out by the project organizers in addition to other accomplishments. It provided the opportunity for the students to learn about and build capacity in the following areas: the ethics of collecting oral histories, conducting interviews with sensitivity and focus, presenting these interviews in English, using the information in other contexts; developing visual thinking strategies; learning a diverse range of technical art skills from photography to collage to paper casting; creative writing; translating what they observe into written or visual responses; working collaboratively; researching and responding to their surroundings.

The students were so invested in the project and in completing their projects. Despite the rain, they insisted on going outside and walking around the town collecting photographs, visiting the Museum, and describing the buildings and changes of the town to the workshop organizers. They opted to stay late some days to finish what they were working on, they asked if the workshop could be lengthened, or if we would offer it again.

We succeeded in building community through art – at the end of the workshop all of the students (they were from different schools) exchanged phone numbers in order to stay in touch. A real bond was formed. The parents came to the exhibition opening at the end and some parents had asked if we would do this again, indicating they would travel to another town in order for their child to participate. One child’s parents in particular expressed that they had tried to engage their child in other projects unsuccessfully to help him open up. The mother was particularly pleased that he was so engaged and excited about the workshop and said they would travel anywhere for him to take it again. Other parents expressed similar gratitude for such a unique opportunity for their children. The students were grateful, giving gifts they made to the organizers, and thanking them profusely. It was a real joy to see the excitement and engagement of all the students.