Drawing of a Rainbow Cheetah

Drawing on Dark paper with Light to visualize glowing

Many of you might have heard about the new community event, YpsiGLOW that happened on October 27th in collaboration with the Ypsilanti Distict Library, Wonderfool Productions, and Ozone House Drop-in Center’s Hall-Ozone. The event itself lit-up Washington Street with black-lights, music, and installation art.

To make such a glowing event sparkle, there was a lot more behind the scenes action, including workshops at FLY and in our Mobile Program in the Ypsilanti Community Schools.

This fall, because of the election and our participation in YpsiGLOW, we decided to focus on Art as Action: Collaboration, Community and Celebration. We talked about the social impacts of art; how to work together; how art-making can help us become leaders.

Jermaine Dickerson, who runs the Superheroes Program at YCHS came in and talked with our kids at Erickson about what the qualities of a superhero are. He talked about how a super-hero is strong, and shows that strength by being kind, even when it’s difficult. Because Jermaine, dressed as Superman under his business casual button-down, was there, we spent the first week at Erickson designing our costumes to showcase how each of the young FLY Artists was super.

At Ypsilanti International Elementary School, students are a little bit younger, and most of them decided to design their costumes around the animals they identify with. One child identified with a rainbow cheetah because she was fast and creative. Another wanted to be a dragon so he could be strong and fierce but kind.

The second week we started making our costumes. Hot glue, stitching, and the perennial Halloween Costume Problem in Michigan: What will the weather be like? Will it rain? Will we need our coats?

To solve the problem, of course we had a grown-up solution in mind, but decided to let the kids come to the conclusions themselves. We asked them a series of questions during our circle time:

What is the weather like today?
Warm and sunny!
Do you need your coat?
What season is it? What is the weather usually like in October?
Fall. It can change a lot but it’s often cold and rainy.
What do you think the weather will be like on Halloween?
They thought it would be nice, clear and pretty
Are you sure it will be nice?
No, we can’t be sure, it’s still 2 weeks away!
Do we know if you will need your coat then?
Nope, no idea if the weather will be warm….

By helping them isolate a chain of logic about why we were making design choices, we helped them to understand the design process, even though we had a solution in mind, the kids still helped us with our logic, and then were able to understand why we were making the kinds of costumes we chose to make.

This is the adult solution: we made tabards and capes to tie on. Many kids decided to add wings to make their superheroes able to FLY or to make their dragons more awesome, and during week three of costuming we added lights, courtesy of Wonderfool Productions!