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Dara Epison, my proposal for learning canvases

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  • ms@ms.lt
    Dara Epison, I m glad we could meet a couple of weeks ago at the University of Chicago s new Logan Center for the arts http://arts.uchicago.edu/logan/ I want
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2012
      Dara Epison,

      I'm glad we could meet a couple of weeks ago at the University of
      Chicago's new Logan Center for the arts http://arts.uchicago.edu/logan/

      I want to stay in touch regarding "learning canvases" and other projects.
      I share further below a proposal that I wrote for Chicago's Neighborhood
      Arts Program. I'm asking for $3,335 for a two-month project this summer
      to make 20 Learning Canvases for front yard fences in Englewood. I'll
      work with youth from Jean Carter-Hill's "Imagine Englewood if..."
      http://www.imagineenglewoodif.org We already have youth and adults who
      are interested in making the learning canvases and so I've started coming
      there on Friday afternoons. We'll see what we can do without funding, but
      it would be great to get some. Also, Heather Robinson, Director of the
      Southside Community Art Center, wrote a letter to say that we can do a
      show there of the learning canvases we make.

      I rode on my bike by 55th and Prairie near the Green Line where you said
      there will be some artistic interventions this summer. I saw some empty
      lots and also a liquor store. There is a youth center on the 5300 block
      of Prairie.

      I made a 3 minute video self-portrait of my show "God's Mind" and my plans
      for the learning canvases:
      Here's a page with photos:
      and here's a video of my "Sermon in the Doll House" with my fellow gospel
      singers from St.Benedict the African (East):
      We sing gospel songs that match the story of "God's Mind", how the good
      kid and the bad kid deal with the idea that "God doesn't have to be good".

      I've also started improv-comedy lessons at the Annoynace Theatre. I'm
      thinking of earning money this summer as a street performer, drawing
      portraits. I'm thinking of making and wearing a cape with "meaningful
      scenes" from my life, and others, too, perhaps relating it to the story of
      God's Mind. The cape will exhibit the portraits I can draw. So I'm
      collecting "meaningful scenes" from our lives.

      I hope we might work together!

      I share my letter also with my online group, "Living by Truth".


      Andrius Kulikauskas
      (773) 306-3807


      1) Briefly describe your artistic background and why you are qualified to
      accomplish the proposed project.

      My ambitious project depends on a rare combination of skills which I have
      - I make tangible, through creative arts, a culture of learning, growing,
      living forever, here and now. I have standing invitations from two art
      centers to do annual shows: Uzupio Galera in Lithuania (2009, 2010) and
      the Southside Community Art Center's second floor gallery (2012).
      - I create games and learning materials. I was an expert chess player and
      work as an after school chess instructor.
      - I reach out nonviolently. Southwest Community Congress gave me an award
      for my work in engaging gangs.
      - I engage people of different generations in terms of what they care
      about, value, seek to know, dream of. I organized an online laboratory
      for serving independent thinkers around the world, 1998-2010.
      - I know Black America as a gospel choir member, tutor, Moor, resident of
      Englewood, Marquette Park, Grand Crossing.
      - I take a fresh look at what is worth learning for its own sake, the deep
      ideas and classic problems in Math, English, Philosophy, Physics, Biology,
      History, Civics, Health and other subjects. I have a Ph.D. in Math and a
      B.A. in Physics. I won a $15,000 award to blog at the PBS website about a
      technology I proposed for African villagers who I know. I also won travel
      grants for my papers in Economics, Intellectual Property, Social
      Networking and Leadership Development.

      2) Describe your experience in presenting workshops and/or performances
      for youth, seniors, persons with disabilities.

      Currently, I work after school as a chess instructor. I excel at teaching
      12 students at once who vary in ability, behavior and age (from 1st grade
      to 5th grade). Our class (1 hr/week, 10 weeks) includes both instruction
      and tournament play.

      As a tutor, I've invented and customized learning materials for a second
      grader to teach himself how to read, and for a learning disabled teenager
      to do algebra problems. As an artist, I'm recreating these as "learning

      As a professor, I've taught Algebra from my own notes based on deep ideas
      and classic problems.

      From 1998 to 2010, I led an online laboratory for independent thinkers,
      including youth and seniors. We investigated "Do you ever change your
      mind?" as part of the Chicago Public Schools Youth Outreach Program.
      My laboratory was based at community centers which I supported in rural
      Lithuania (Atzalynas, Eiciunai) and in Englewood (the Moorish Cultural
      Workshop). I was active there in arts and internet video programs for

      In 2008, in order to avert genocide in Kenya, I organized 100 peacemakers
      on-the-ground and 100 online assistants. Our peacemakers included
      acrobats, community theater activists and women on motorbikes.
      Afterwards, I organized a tour by 10 Kenyan acrobats who performed in
      Lithuania, including live on television and for a school of deaf children.
      In Lithuania, I was a "rock star", entertaining thousands of people. My
      band won 2nd place for best cassette of the year.

      In Chicago, I lead a Learning Club for two adult self-learners who are
      learning Math and Web Design.

      I curated a UNESCO childrens' art show. At my art shows, I create new
      works, organize events and engage tourists.

      3) Describe the project for which you are requesting funds. Be specific:
      discuss the beginning and ending date, number of days per week, total
      weeks, total sessions, hours of sessions and projected class or audience
      size, etc.

      I dream of families in Englewood hosting "learning canvases" on the fences
      of their front yards. This shows they are keen to learn, teach, play and
      engage others. "Learning canvases" range in size from 2' x 2' to 6' x
      12'. Children and adults play learning games with cards stuck onto the
      canvas by velcro. I've created such canvases for chess, phonics and
      multiplication. 20 families with canvases can pioneer this idea and
      perhaps start a trend and lift the spirit of the neighborhood.

      I work with "Imagine Englewood if..." to identify 6 older youth (and
      possibly seniors) who would like to be gamemakers. In the first week,
      early July, they think, what subject (Math, English, History, Science,
      ...) would they like their games to teach? For the next 6 weeks I work 3
      days/week, 4 hrs/day with gamemakers. We use Wikipedia, etc. to research
      relevant facts, such as dates for a historical timeline. We design with
      each a game they find interesting. We paint the canvas and attach velcro.
      We design game cards with a computer, print them on card stock,
      weatherproof them with packing tape and attach velcro. We make 2 to 5
      versions of each game. Many tasks are time-intensive. In half of our
      hours (3 two hour sessions/week for 6 weeks) we include children to help
      us, typically, a group of 5 or 10 to cut velcro and cards. We organize
      this as a social activity which may include music. Of course, children
      may deem such tasks "too boring" or "too hard". We supplement them with
      creative activities such as drawing with oil pastels. We work with
      children to see how the games can be fun to play. We also want them and
      their 20 families to take "ownership" of the games, hang them on their
      fences and play them with some 200+ people. In September, our eighth week,
      we present our learning canvases, our gamemakers and our stories at an art
      show at the Southside Community Art Center.

      4) Discuss materials needed for project and costs. Describe in narrative
      format how grant funds will be used.

      $575 are needed for materials: paint $208, velcro $144, canvas $115,
      printer ink $60, packing tape $32, card stock $16. This is for 20
      learning canvases ranging in size from 2' x 2' to 6' x 12' and averaging
      3' x 5'. We also need $60 for supplies: scissors, brushes, as well as oil
      pastels and paper for sketches.

      Working on my own, I'd need 360 hours: 60 hrs. of outreach engaging hosts
      and artists (3 hrs. per canvas), 120 hrs. designing games, researching
      data for game cards (20 hrs. for each of 6 game types), 80 hrs. making
      canvases (2 hrs. to 6 hrs. each) and 100 hrs. making game cards (2 hrs. to
      8 hrs. each set). Involving children, youth and seniors will make the
      canvases truly meaningful so that families host them, children play with
      them, elders teach with them, and passersby enjoy them and respect them.
      We will all grow from our time together. However, based on my experience
      teaching youngsters, I don't think it will reduce my hours very much,
      certainly not by half. I ask for 90 hrs. of salary ($2700) so that I
      might do this project which I think will inspire positive change in a
      distraught neighborhood. I'll spend 36 hrs. in sessions and 48+ more hrs.
      with gamemakers.

      5) How do you plan to promote and/or recruit participants for your project?

      "Imagine Englewood if..." will identify families that might host our
      learning canvases. They will recommend 6 creative older youth who will be
      our game makers. They will also provide a group of 20 children, youth and
      seniors who would like to help. "Imagine Englewood if..." youth
      participate in journalism and social media programs through "We the People
      Media" and can help spread the word and develop good ideas. I will also
      engage residents of the blocks near where I lived at 6726 S Parnell Ave. I
      will invite members of my parish, St.Benedict the African East, at 66th
      and Stewart, where I sing in the choir.

      As we create Learning Canvases, we will hang them up on a long fence near
      the "Imagine Englewood if..." site, inviting interest. We will prime the
      back of the canvases so that all who help make them and those who host
      them can sign them along with their intentions. We will encourage local
      organizations, institutions, businesses to host canvases and suggest
      hosts. We will also encourage hosts to exchange canvases. We'll promote
      this story and our concluding show in the media, especially online.

      6) How will the funded project benefit the constituency and community you
      propose to serve? Discuss the project's 'fit' to the program site and
      explain how it works with the site's programming mission.

      Jean Carter-Hill of "Imagine Englewood if..." says that the key to
      uplifiting Englewood is learning to work together. She focuses on the
      youth as they still believe that change is possible. "Imagine Englewood
      if..." motivates youth through community gardens, field trips that expand
      their horizons, and journalism and leadership for locally urgent issues
      such as lead poisoning and violence prevention. A recent Saturday meeting
      brought together more than 100 residents to prevent violence.

      I know how creative arts "change the rules" in our surroundings, allowing
      old and young, women and men, insiders and outsiders, gentle and scary,
      learned and unlearned, motivated and apathetic to come together in new
      ways. I believe that the "magnet families" which host our learning
      canvases will be discovered as people who care to learn, teach and play,
      for all to see. They will become approachable by others who may not seem
      as nice or scary. The canvases will be vulnerable to weather and
      vandalism, but their growing number will foster respect. Jean's vision
      includes a "learning walk" for subjects we can learn, jobs we can work,
      homes we can build, dreams we can dream.
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