• Mercé Lanise Culp

Art Meets LEGEND with Toledo Museum Of Art

Youth Outreach program to coincide with private community concert with Museum staff, Art Tatum Zone Youth, and the Junction neighborhood.

It was great to work with the Art Tatum Zone Youth. Toledo Museum of Art brought me off-site to Tabernacle Church (Pastors Calvin and Christine Sweeney) in Toledo to do 4 workshops with the theme Art Meets Legend. Legend? Yes, as in grammy-winning singer and songwriter John Legend. John Legend's Team sent us his setlist for his upcoming private community concert at the museum. He chose artwork from Toledo Museum's Collection that resonated with him the most. Those works were installed in the Great Gallery for the show.

Our first session involved brainstorming, free drawing, and recanting lyrics from certain ones of John Legends greats. From there, we gained inspiration for expressing thoughts about community and identity through his lyrics.

My choice of fashion and textile design was the avenue for our artistic expression. For the first time, and first time with youth, I instructed a group project influenced by my new style of exhibition which is meant to bombard the viewer with pattern and color where one becomes the art through wearable canvases and surface design.

For all four sessions, we explored multiple methods of printmaking with ink and with paint. Essentially we created a capsule collection of primary colors + black and white to be arranged for multiple interviews, video documentary, and an impromptu photoshoot arranged in UrbanDigitz style (backdrop wall, models, found objects and wearable canvases).

Later, we wanted to make our work wearable for our community so I composited the youth's most prominent expressions in print. I combined a few of their expressions to create professionally printed t-shirts and stickers made available as gifts to the community upon arrival at the private concert. The thought the young people put into their designs and their investment into this project was very meaningful. It also taught them how art gets converted to fashion and the process and skills necessary to create something of their own. A few exciting moments and discussions really made this process rich.

ART MEETS LEGEND Documentary Coming Soon

A Documentary will be released soon by the Toledo Museum of Art that takes you on a journey of all the meaningful happenings that lead up to the museum's opportunity to host a private community concert featuring John Legend.

Upon entering the hallway leading to the green room, I hear a shout of excitement and also my name! I scaled the stairway quickly to find a 60-inch tv screen with a slideshow of our workshop experiences, the teen's finished works, notable quotes, and photographs of special moments. It was larger than life. Next to the tv was a mannequin wearing the fashion created during the workshops. This breath-taking display was by far one of the coolest opportunities I've had to date.

What a night! John Legend chose very large paintings to be installed in the Great Gallery and for every song-change, a spotlight shined on him and just the painting his song coordinated with. The setting was a pitch-black gallery with just spots, shadows, and silhouettes of teenagers on the front row and Toledo Museum staff and community friends.

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