Blogs Field Guide Witt Siasoco

Witt Siasoco is the Program Manager of Teen Programs at the Walker Art Center. Siasoco joined the Walker in 1998 to work with the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), a visionary program designed to connect teenagers with contemporary art and artists. Today, Walker’s Teen Programs serve as an international model for alternative education formats both within museums and cultural centers. Formerly, Siasoco worked as a coordinator of the Young Artist Cabaret at Intermedia Arts, a monthly open mic for young artists and a Grantmakers in the Arts Assistant for Arts Midwest, a regional arts organization. Currently Siasoco serves on the board of Juxtaposition Arts, a North Minneapolis arts organization that empowers youth and community to use the arts to actualize their full potential.

The Kids Are All Right

Since 1993, the Walker has been offering programs specifically for teenagers. Throughout it’s 17 year history over 100 high school students have participated in it’s core program – the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), an advisory group that partners with the Walker to create workshops, events, and interactions for teenagers. As a staff […]

Since 1993, the Walker has been offering programs specifically for teenagers. Throughout it’s 17 year history over 100 high school students have participated in it’s core program – the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), an advisory group that partners with the Walker to create workshops, events, and interactions for teenagers.

As a staff member for over a decade, I had the opportunity to develop long term relationships with WACTAC members. One of the most rewarding parts of my job was witnessing participants develop socially, academically, and professionally.  Over the years I had kept tabs of alumni anecdotally, but I didn’t have a formal way of tracking the participants. Several years back we decided to make a concerted effort to get the alumni together annually.

Free food and drinks are always a good way to get people to show up, so every year around the holidays “Uncle” Walker organizes a WACTAC Alumni Gathering. The event is an opportunity for past participants to reconnect with one another and staff. This year’s event was held at Common Roots Cafe and brought together over 30 participants spanning both Generations X and Y, ranging in age from 18 – 31. Participants exchanged memories of WACTAC romances gone sour, Don’t Sleep On It (a raucous 24 hour art event), and epic rubberband fights in the Teen Programs office. Although their careers vary widely (from Student to Electrician), the majority of participants continue to be actively involved in the arts as creators and/or audience members.

I realize that most educators and youth workers don’t get the see how their work effected others 10 years down the road, so I feel extremely fortunate to have a yearly opportunity to catch up with past WACTAC participants. In the end the party was a great success and I’m looking forward to next year’s gathering.

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Pirate Press Zine Workshop

This month Teen Programs is hosting a zine workshop taught by graphic designer Alex DeArmond. We started off the class by meeting librarian Rosemary Furtak in Walker Library and checked out zines and artist books by Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Sara Varon and many others. [tylr-slidr userID=”36154778@N00″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157623672605311/show/[/tylr-slidr] After the library, we played around with […]

This month Teen Programs is hosting a zine workshop taught by graphic designer Alex DeArmond. We started off the class by meeting librarian Rosemary Furtak in Walker Library and checked out zines and artist books by Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Sara Varon and many others.

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After the library, we played around with the equipment that we will be using. Keeping true to the nature of the zine, Alex has decided to take a very low tech approach to production – relying on a handful of typewriters, xerox machines, font books, and letraset sheets. Knowing that most of the students are coming from the world of computer aided graphic design, Alex decided to set some guidelines for the workshop. Below is his “Made-By-Hand No Google Manifesto.”

Today we’ll be diving in to the “making” portion of the class by creating a zine in the span of 2 hours.  Follow our progress on the class blog and check out what we come up with on Thursday, April 29th at 6 pm in the Art Lab.

Emmett Ramstad’s Top 5 Reasons to Work with Dancers

Last month the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) journeyed to the Art of This Gallery to meet artist/designer Emmett Ramstad and chat about his recent collaboration with the BodyCartography Project 1/2 Life. I really was looking forward to introducing the group to Emmett. Aside from designing the setting and costumes for Heaven (a […]

Emmett AOT Visit2

Last month the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) journeyed to the Art of This Gallery to meet artist/designer Emmett Ramstad and chat about his recent collaboration with the BodyCartography Project 1/2 Life. I really was looking forward to introducing the group to Emmett. Aside from designing the setting and costumes for Heaven (a Walker commissioned performance by dancer Morgan Thorson and the minimalist rock group Low), Emmett was a member of the first WACTAC in 1996.

The lively discussion ranged from his artistic inspirations like the plastic island being formed by our trash in the North Pacific Gyre to the many career titles (hairdresser, food server, art handler) that he has had while maintaining a life as an artist. We also touched upon his collaboration with dancers, which led us to our most recent “Top 5″ (see the video below).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS_Pcs_3YqQ[/youtube]

If you like video, check out our other “Top 5s” at http://www.youtube.com/wactacers

Top 5 Artworks that Need to be Identified as Art

A couple weeks ago the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) visited David Bartley, Senior Registration Technician. As a part of our on going series of interviews with staff and artists, we asked David to show us his “Top 5 Artworks that Need to be Identified as Art.” [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1wH_apdxhY[/youtube]

A couple weeks ago the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) visited David Bartley, Senior Registration Technician. As a part of our on going series of interviews with staff and artists, we asked David to show us his “Top 5 Artworks that Need to be Identified as Art.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1wH_apdxhY[/youtube]

WACTAC Pitches a Tent

[tylr-slidr userID=”” groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157622855657923/[/tylr-slidr] Over the past months WACTAC has been talking about the ways that people make art together and interact socially in public space. To further the discussion, I invited artist Peter Haakon Thompson to meet WACTAC and present his work. Honestly there isn’t an artist that fits the bill as perfect as Peter. […]

[tylr-slidr userID=”” groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157622855657923/[/tylr-slidr]

Over the past months WACTAC has been talking about the ways that people make art together and interact socially in public space. To further the discussion, I invited artist Peter Haakon Thompson to meet WACTAC and present his work. Honestly there isn’t an artist that fits the bill as perfect as Peter. His resume includes curator of the 55408 exhibition at Intermedia Arts, a totally inclusive showcase (all artists that submit are invited to exhibit their work) of artists that live and work in the 55408 zip code; The “A” Project, a series of signage and sculpture that increases arts awareness; the Art Shanty Projects, a yearly community of over 30 artists who create social engaging structures on the frozen Medicine Lake.

When I first approached him, Peter mentioned his newest work, a tent that requires a group to pitch it and have a discussion inside. Needless to say, we had a great time chatting with Peter about his projects and hanging out in tent. The conversation will hopefully lead to a project or series of events that will be presented next summer.

WACTAC at Generation O: A National Convening for Teens in the Arts

[tylr-slidr userID=”36154778@N00″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157622308167064/show/[/tylr-slidr] This post was written by WACTAC member Nakami Tongrit-Green (see bio below). Being on WACTAC for the past 2 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in high school. So when Witt asked Kaitlyn (2nd year WACTAC member) and I to attend the Generation O: Conference at the […]

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This post was written by WACTAC member Nakami Tongrit-Green (see bio below).

Being on WACTAC for the past 2 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in high school. So when Witt asked Kaitlyn (2nd year WACTAC member) and I to attend the Generation O: Conference at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, I was more than thrilled to accept the offer. Although I was excited about the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew we would be meeting teenagers from around the country who were involved in similar museum related programs but I wasn’t sure what they would be like, and what I could gain from meeting these people.

Day One in Boston was a bit tiring. As soon Kaitlyn and I arrived in Boston, Witt immediately took us around the city to look at some colleges, and kind of get a feel for the area. It was Kaitlyn and my first time in Boston and I have to admit, it’s a gorgeous city. We met Rosanna Flouty, the Teen Programs director at the ICA that night at dinner, as well as some other teen representatives and museum educators. It was nice to get a chance to meet people before the conference kicked off but I was too busy stuffing my face to really have a valuable dinner conversation with anyone. We ordered so much food that night. I had probably eaten enough for the whole weekend at that point…

Day Two consisted of a series of presentations from all the different Museums and teen programs, as well as a tour of the ICA and the Shepard Fairey exhibit, which was amazing! It was also great to hear all the different programs going on from Miami all the way up to Chicago – Museum of Contemporary Art Miami’s Women On The Rise Program, Museum of Modern Art’s Teen Council , Whitney’s Youth Insights, and Marwen.

By Day Three, it seemed like I knew everyone so well! The kids from the ICA showed us around Boston a little bit, and we had time to kick it at the hotel, which was nice. During the day, we had discussions on a variety of topics regarding Teen Programs in Museums and it was actually really beneficial to hear everyone’s opinions and ideas.

Day Four. No one wanted to leave!!

I was definitely inspired by this trip and I feel like I’m ready to kick off my final year on WACTAC! I would just like to say thanks to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and shout out to all the great people we met there! I’d also like to thank the Walker for this great experience. Look out for even more fabulous WACTAC workshops and events this year :)

Nakami Green has been singing for as far back as she can remember, starting with sing-alongs to old Aretha Franklin records in her living room. Now, at age 16, she is a member of the Harding Senior High School concert choir and has performed solo as well as with other young musicians around the twin cities. She has worked as a singer/songwriter for the past two summers in the COMPAS Artswork Apprenticeship program and has sung with the Walker West gospel choir. Nakami has competed in talent shows and was a finalist last fall in her school’s singing contest, “Harding Idol”. She still finds time to sing along to her favorite Aretha tunes, but now works mainly on original compositions. She incorporates styles from every genre into her R&B sound, which is a reflection of her diverse taste in music. Nakami Green is currently working on her demo which she hopes to release in 2010.

Sleep On It: 24 Hours of Recovery

This post was written by Emmanuel Mauleon, Teen Programs Intern. After working for over 50 hours in the last four days I have to say that as I walked away from Don’t Sleep On It I was extremely tired. But I found myself wishing about an hour after it finished that I was still in […]

This post was written by Emmanuel Mauleon, Teen Programs Intern.

After working for over 50 hours in the last four days I have to say that as I walked away from Don’t Sleep On It I was extremely tired. But I found myself wishing about an hour after it finished that I was still in that small room in the California Building creating another three hour installation.

Don’t Sleep On It was a huge success. Aside from the issue of the time-lapse video going out for 12 hours, everything went off without a hitch. This was due in large part to all of the artists, and their commitment to keep all of our participants motivated through their sleep-walking/arting.

Thanks to Erin and Brett Smith for the convenience store, Chris Pennington for the cardboard city, Hardland/Heartland for the black hole (with help from M-Deathsquads), Burlesque for the BRLSQOTHEQUE (and the wall of bass), Kristina Mooney for the misty mountain landscape, Liz Miller for the felt and burlap oasis, Scott Stulen and Andy Ducett for the couch-fort/pastel-polygon, and lastly Broken Crow for the porcupine and spray paint free-for-all. Each of these installations were amazing and surprisingly different.

I’d also personally like to thank WACTAC for their commitment to staying awake and helping remove trash and debris while everyone else was making art. Nick & Shannon, word up.

Thanks to all of our participants, sponsors and funders. There will be a slew of photos in the upcoming days, so be on the look-out for that, but for now here’s the time lapse video.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB7jVGSoDIg[/youtube]

I’m going back to bed now.

Admin edit: Added the corrected, longer version of the time-lapse video.

Broken Crow at WACTAC’s 24 Art-Making Marathon

In lead up to Don’t Sleep On It: 24 Hour Art Making Marathon, WACTAC did a couple interviews with some of the participating artists. The interview series continues with Twin Cities large scale stencil artist collective Broken Crow. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSs0TL0oO3c&feature=channel_page[/youtube] If you haven’t already, check out the our first video interview with Hardland/Heartland.

Art On Call and Teen Artists

Over the past years I have had difficulties getting teen artists to produce quality writing about their work. Many times a printed artist statement and biography written by a teen artist doesn’t give much insight to how they developed the work, what inspires them, or what they are trying to convey through their art. Although […]

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Over the past years I have had difficulties getting teen artists to produce quality writing about their work. Many times a printed artist statement and biography written by a teen artist doesn’t give much insight to how they developed the work, what inspires them, or what they are trying to convey through their art. Although a print piece is valuable in terms of permanence, for teen programs, Art on Call has been the perfect companion to the traditional written artist statement. As mentioned in a previous post, Art on Call can be interesting way of bringing artists voices into galleries, cinema, and theater.

Check out some of the Art on Call artist statements that we produced for last year’s multidisciplinary teen art show 20 Under 20 and the 13 Most Beautiful Young Artists performance (Warning: shameless plug – check it out tomorrow night!).

I would love to hear about technologies that educators are using to bring young artists voices into exhibition spaces. Educators, do you have any success stories? Visitors, are these info devices helpful to you? Do you use these devices?

Let’s Try It Again…13 Most Beautiful Young Artists

Last month WACTAC was ready to present 13 Most Beautiful Young Artists, a multimedia performance featuring original music performed live by 8 groups of young Twin Cities’ musicians. Unfortunately, on the day of the show we had 6″ of snow dumped on us and had to postpone the performance for a later date. Fortunately, we […]

Last month WACTAC was ready to present 13 Most Beautiful Young Artists, a multimedia performance featuring original music performed live by 8 groups of young Twin Cities’ musicians. Unfortunately, on the day of the show we had 6″ of snow dumped on us and had to postpone the performance for a later date. Fortunately, we snuck in a tech check before the snow fell. Check out the photos.

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Blizzard, sleet, or snow, we hope to present the performance on Thursday night!

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