CREATOR OF THE ART BOX
MEET, SCHETAUNA POWELL
When I was a little girl, I enjoyed art and hence, wanted to become an artist. In my household, education was valued but participation in art was seen as an extravagance; nice but unnecessary. I attended the University of Houston for undergraduate training. I excelled in my art classes and enjoyed discourse about race through art. I also began to feel the ire of racism and became disengaged with the ivory tower’s route towards a career as an artist.
As I grew as both an artist and intellectual, gaining a Masters degree in Pan African Studies from the University of Louisville, I decided to shift my focus towards engaging the community through art. During my 10+ career in K-12 education I began organizing around arts advocacy and I noticed divestment from public education leaves students of color in increasingly hostile environments where state mandates create propagandized curriculum. Ultimately I realized that the response to these issues in public education is not effective. Therefore, I decided to devote my Life Work to using art as a tool for liberation.
HISTORY OF ARTIVISM COMMUNITY ART
My great grandmother, Annie, worked as a maid and in her spare time she made wedding dresses and fine clothes for her friends and family.
My grandmother, Lovie, worked as a caretaker, and in her spare time she crocheted and kept whimsical toys made from cloth.
My mother, Freda worked as a nurse and in her spare time she writes and collects stories.
In my family working has taken precedence over centering our creativity; the creativity has always been present but suppressed.
In each of my mothers’ lives a yearning to center their creative voice fell to the pressure of survival.
Today I center my well being and creativity as a means of creating a sustainable future for my daughter.
The Art Box was designed during Artivism Community Art’s BSAM Houston conferences between 2018 to 2021. At the conference we learned that the cultural practices of Black and Brown people are not well represented in the arts, culture, and education industry resulting in a lack of participation and employment in creative fields among African Americans of all ages. When we surveyed our participants we learned that participants wanted their experiences to be designed so that learning is enjoyable, memorable, and scalable for all ages. They wanted a learning experience that teaches from an Afrocentric model, is not accountable to the state, provides space for experimentation and entrepreneurship, and gives voice to generational knowledge. Based on the discussion we created the Art Box.
THE ART BOX ALLOWS US TO CREATE OUR OWN REALITY
Through CURIOSITY and research about a topic in the African and Indigenous Diasporic Culture.
COLLECTING resources and goods from the community that supports sustainable practices.
ENGAGING with the community about the topic with an event.
DOCUMENTING the event through photo and video.
and DESIGNING tangible products that reflect the ideas communicated by the community, and support sustainability practices.
“When I first met Schetauna, I didn’t know about Artivism until we started talking a little bit more.
She brings a lot of that cultural connection and world-expanding viewpoints to the kids. Even while
we were learning about the museum curriculum, I think she really brings that cultural knowledge
and she really pushed for different types of artwork from around the world but pushed for all
students to feel challenged by it and to grow from it and to learn about the world through art.”