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Mark on Your Mark: Project Ideas for Future Activations

We are students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This project proposal was created through the course Process(ing) Transformation: Inclusive Approaches to Repurposing Closed Chicago Public Schools taught by faculty Paola Aguirre Serrano during the Spring 2020. The course focuses on expanding alternatives for repurposing processes of former school sites as network driven by inclusion and equity. The course studies both the scale of the network (the complete list of documented closed schools from 2013), and uses Anthony Overton Elementary School located in the mid-South Side of Chicago (Bronzeville) as site-specific case study for prototyping a design intervention. Through research, documentation, ideation, and visualization exercises we researched, documented and collaborated in designing frameworks, methods, and processes methods for public activations using art, design and architecture as the connective elements of these efforts in working with impacted communities.

Mark on Your Mark is a project that exists at the intersection of basketball, Chicago style footwork, and community. Also inspired by the work of Lefty Boyd, I Am Chicago Basketball who has been organizing basketball programming at Overton School since 2018.

Mark on Your Mark is inspired by the visual language of footprints, and their significance when workshopping a vacant space like Overton School. People once attended the school, and people will occupy the space again.

The final video project proposal outlines the resulting fabric being turned into tote bags, however, we felt the project would be more impactful to go bigger - laying out an enormous surface where full games of basketball and dance routines can take place.

The workshop is planned to take place at Anthony Overton Elementary School in Bronzeville (one of 50 Chicago public schools that closed in 2013), participants will document their dancing, playing, and energetic movement through the form of footprints.

How do we capture our physical presence as a reminder of past, current and future play?

How can we use physical activity and the arts to serve a positive social impact?

Community members are invited to help in the creation of this collage of movement through dipping shoes in paint then participating in basketball games and footwork dancing atop the surface. In addition, individuals who view the project when it’s finished will be able to retrace the energetic steps of people who occupied the space on the day of the event and reflect on the energy, movement and life that once occupied Overton - How can it be reintroduced?

The focal point of this piece will be a celebration of Bronzeville that will include DJ’s, dancing, footwork lessons, basketball, and food.

How do we disassociate crime and these cultural activities, and validate the beauty of these reasons to congregate?

Bronzeville is very much alive and an empty building can’t change that.

Inspiration for Mark on Your Mark comes from looking at other organizations/groups in Chicago that unite communities through physical activity - facilitating play and movement. The Era Footwork Crew, a local dance crew that has a strong emphasis on sharing and teaching the art of footwork, and B-Ball on the Block, an organization that blocks off streets to host basketball tournaments with local kids, are both sources of inspiration for our project.

The visual language of Mark on Your Mark is inspired by the playful visual language of Eve Ewing’s A Map Home and the community engaged creative process of Borderless Studio’s project Love Letter to the Crump.


At home prototype for Mark on Your Mark

At home prototype for Mark on Your Mark

Layered paint prints from shoes and a basketball

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