The B.A.T. Project: Business, Art and Theater Revive Urban Communities, is a multi-year collaboration between students in those disciplines and public policy, Saginaw youth meeting with them, and our nearby cities.
B.A.T. began with conversations between professors at an SVSU Art Gallery reception. Joseph Ofori-Dankwa (Management) told Mike Mosher (Art) that he wished Business students' leadership and creativity could be stimulated with collaborative projects like the Art 433 muralists complete. David Rzeszutek (Theatre) hoped for more theatre and art spaces in underutilized downtown real estate, so SVSU graduates could continue in their profession in the region. We all realized that we could work toward that end, but it would take time. Phase I (2012)mural panels were later installed in various sites around Curtiss Hall.
Phase II, 2014, was joined by John Kaczynski (Political Science) and his public policy class. In this phase, we made our marks off campus. The semester kicked off with the B.A.T. Symposium on the City, sponsored by the SVSU Foundation, on January 27, 2014, with five invited speakers on rustbelt cites, and making arts flourish within them.
(photo: Jeff Schrier/Mlive.com)
To familiarize all our classes with the issues and challenges ahead, the semester kicked off with the B.A.T. Business, Art & Theatre Reinvent Urban Communities Symposium on the City (sponsored by the SVSU Foundation) on January 27, 2014, with five invited speakers on Michigan’s and similar postindustrial cities, and making arts flourish within them. Panelists were from Road Less Traveled Productions, (Buffalo, NY); Columbia College of Chicago; Anders Associates (architect/designers), Midland; Associated Builders and Contractors; and the Bay City Downtown Management Board Development Authority.
The symposium was discussed in an Mlive.com article.
The digitally designed 50' x 15' mural on vinyl mesh was
There was some input from the four multi-discipline B.A.T. teams, incorporating students from each of the four professors' classes, on the topics of Community Engagement, Downtown Development and Transportation, Education and the Riverfront, though schedule constraints for a project of this size required Art 433 complete it by mid-semster.
The design process was more attentive to input from a group of Saginaw middle school students brought to SVSU by the First Ward Community Center. One artistic girl said "I just like to make marks", which our class felt was an appropriate phrase for youth making a contribution to their community and environment (the aesthetics and ethics of graffiti were a topic of later class discussion). Another girl felt it was imperative in schools to end bullying; our class witnessed uncomfortable dynamics among the young people, and reflected on our own middle school experiences.
Students in Winter 2014 Art 433 were Dvereaux Beauchaine, Jayne Browning, Janel Deeren, Corbin Fetters, Eileen Gemborys, Jillian Gerhardt, Markel Haralson, Adam Stuart.
The mural was funded by United Way of Saginaw County—we worked closely with its Director Cherrie Benchley—with support by Lamar, Barrett Sign, and the Dow Events Center.