When we decided to create a set of Triangle Lab experiments connected to Spunk, we were inspired right away by Zora Neale Hurston’s well-known dedication to collecting and sharing stories, by her anthropological approach to gathering African-American language, folklore, and song. We wondered what it would be like to invite youth in different communities to become anthropologists of their own neighborhoods and families.
Working with classroom teachers at EC Reems Academy in Oakland, we designed a residency that brought teaching artists Elizabeth Carter and Alyssa Banks into 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade classrooms.
Students learned about Hurston’s work, interviewed family members about Oakland history, wrote about their homes and their daily journeys to school, and turned these stories into performance pieces that they presented to classmates and families.
Some of the 8th graders also worked with photographers April Banks and Susu Attar (pictured above) to document their homes and families using digital cameras. The Triangle Lab exhibit at Spunk (designed by Banks and Attar) features the students photos and writing.
Click here to read student writing by 3rd and 4th graders at EC Reems.
Click here to read 8th grade performance pieces based on family interviews.
View a slideshow of the student photos below.