Mayor John Kinsey

In Your Face Neighborhood Project

Program Design & Creative Content

In Your Face: Neighborhood Portraits is an artist-in-residence program serving inner-city children from neighborhood-based recreation centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The program began in 1996 and is offered each fall. In 1999, the program will serve over 135 children at nine sites. The program is co-produced by Chattanooga Parks, Recreation, Arts and Culture (CPRAC), the Creative Discovery Museum (CDM), and the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts (SCEA).

During the five-week program, each site hosts a group of 15 children for two, 90-minute sessions per week. The children meet with a team of three professionals, including a visual artist, a teacher from the local schools, and a staff person from the CDM. The activity focuses on the creation of two ceramic tiles depicting self-portraits, the writing of an artists’ statement, the experience of learning to work with kids from other neighborhoods, and the exhibition of one’s work in a museum. The program is free, but each child must sign a contract pledging to attend all ten sessions in order to participate.

Children from throughout the city are transported to the program sites. Each session starts with activities to help kids get to know one another and to learn to work together. They engage in hands-on activities to learn about: Face structure and portraiture; clay and its properties; sculpting and glazing techniques; and writing an artist’s statement or the titles to accompany the tiles in the public exhibit. Critique sessions are held to help the children choose which will be used for public display.

The CDM hosts a professionally-mounted exhibit of the tiles for six months. The young artists are celebrated at an opening reception attended by their families, the Mayor, and other community leaders. Later, the tiles travel to exhibits in other public venues. Many of the tiles created to date will be permanently displayed in Chattanooga’s City Council Chambers. In late 1999, one hundred tiles were permanently installed in the new offices of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, one of the original funding sources of In Your Face.

Quality of Instruction & Participant Performance

Instructors for In Your Face come from CPRAC, SCEA, and the CDM. CPRAC hires one visual artist for each site. The artists have professional experience working with youth as well as expertise in a related art discipline. The artists take the lead on all tasks related to creating the tiles. Through a partnership with SCEA, a local school teacher is selected for each site. The teachers receive discipline-based arts education in a SCEA summer institute to learn how to use the arts across curricula. CPRAC recruits SCEA summer institute participants for the staff of In Your Face. The teacher takes the lead in the writing component of the program.

Youth Participation

The high quality of youth participation is demonstrated by their commitment to the program. Ninety percent of children participating in In Your Face fulfill the terms of their contract to attend all sessions. The children register for the program at the City’s 18 recreation centers. Ninety percent of the recreation center participants are African American and ten percent are Caucasian, Asian, or Hispanic. The age range is 8-17 years, with an average of 13. The curriculum of In Your Face exposes each child to: Substantial artistic content; meaningful, skill-building experiences; self-discipline skills; new and creative ways to express ideas and feelings; training in creative writing; and the pride of presenting one’s art in a public milieu. In 1998, In Your Face received an arts and humanities award from the Tennessee Recreation Parks Association.

Role of the Mayor & City Government

Mayor Jon Kinsey has been an enthusiastic supporter of In Your Face. Each fall, Mayor Kinsey visits the program at a recreation center and hosts the reception for the opening of the exhibit. Mayor Kinsey supported placing the portrait tiles in the new City Council Chambers.

Demonstration of Community-Wide Support and/or Involvement

Community support for In Your Face has been demonstrated by: The fact that nearly 500 children have registered for the program since 1996; the huge turnout of family members and community leaders at the openings; 70,000 visitors to the CDM that passed through the In Your Face exhibit during its six-month tenure; and continued funding from foundations and the local arts alliance.

Description of Funding Mechanisms

In Your Face has been funded by a combination of sources each year. CPRAC has been the lead organization for In Your Face. It secured funding from private foundations and allied arts. CPRAC cultivated partnerships with the CDM and SCEA. CPRAC contributed over $7,500 in staffing, transportation, supplies and services in 1998. CPRAC contributes staff time, fundraising, transportation, supplies/materials, and the installation of a traveling exhibit. The CDM contributes exhibit space, museum staff and volunteers, training support, and museum passes. SCEA furnishes input on curriculum design and provides the summer institute for teachers. Two local foundations and Allied Arts have provided the additional funding needed to conduct In Your Face.


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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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