Blog: MCA DNA

Planning 21Minus

By Ria Sylva

Featured image

21Minus, May 17, 2014 Photo: Gillian Fry, © MCA Chicago

Heading

21Minus, the Teen Creative Agency’s annual festival of art created by people under 21, is this Saturday. TCA’s aim is to make the MCA a platform, workshop, laboratory, and performance space for teens and their biggest way to do this is through programs such as 21Minus. Below, Ria Sylva, a first-year member of TCA, describes the TCA’s process of making this event.

About

The preparation for 21Minus has been filled with an abundance of great ideas, organizing, and planning—lots of planning. It is a major collaborative effort that involves the 25 TCA members, many steps, and many months of work.

Step 1: Put out the call to artists and select collaborators

Earlier this year, we put out a call to other young artists to submit proposals that would activate and engage the museum and its visitors with a fresh, young voice. We reviewed all submissions and accepted our finalists. Altogether, we are developing 25 projects by over 50 young artists that will be featured at the event.

Featured image

Colead artist for TCA, Lyra Hill, at TCA planning event, December 13, 2014 Photo: Mikayla Delson, © MCA Chicago

About

Step 2: Curate and refine projects

Organizing the proposals of wildly different and creative artists was the most difficult aspect of planning. The first thing we did was break into five “curatorial teams” that would be responsible for developing one part of the event: Plaza Spectacle has been working with welcoming, attention-grabbing projects on the plaza; Audience Activated has been handling interactive experiences; Conceptual Performance has been working with performance art; Theater Team has been overseeing performances/workshops in the MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater; and my group, Classroom of the Future, has been handling a set of projects around nontraditional learning. Each team has taken on four or five projects and a big part of our work so far has been to shape and refine those projects with the artists to make them the best they can be.

As a curatorial team we also had to figure out how each project related to one another. My team’s projects range from aluminum foil sculpting to zine-making to a #BlackLivesMatter discussion, making this goal a bit difficult. So we went through each project and rattled off what made them different or what the project wanted to achieve. This exercise made us realize that every group just wanted to show that anyone can be a teacher and everyone is always a student. Because of this, the Classroom of the Future’s overall goal is to experiment with the teacher-student dynamic in a way that does not happen in a traditional classroom. While it seemed difficult at first, all it took was figuring out the connecting thread from each group to the Classroom’s goal to make them all fit perfectly. This was the process almost every team went through to form an overall “pitch” and a more specific theme for each proposal in their group.

Featured image

TCA planning 21Minus Photo: Lauren Miller, © MCA Chicago

About

As a curatorial team we also had to figure out how each project related to one another. My team’s projects range from aluminum foil sculpting to zine-making to a #BlackLivesMatter discussion, making this goal a bit difficult. So we went through each project and rattled off what made them different or what the project wanted to achieve. This exercise made us realize that every group just wanted to show that anyone can be a teacher and everyone is always a student. Because of this, the Classroom of the Future’s overall goal is to experiment with the teacher-student dynamic in a way that does not happen in a traditional classroom. While it seemed difficult at first, all it took was figuring out the connecting thread from each group to the Classroom’s goal to make them all fit perfectly. This was the process almost every team went through to form an overall “pitch” and a more specific theme for each proposal in their group.

Featured image

21Minus, May 17, 2014 Photo: Abraham Ritchie, © MCA Chicago

About

Step 3–5: Figure out the nuts and bolts

After we figured out our overarching themes, we needed to figure out the minor details. This planning has been way more in-depth: where each person, art work, band, workshop, and discussion would be located in the museum and at what time; how much staff is necessary; what materials are needed. Most of the planning days have been long, but they drew us closer to the final decisions for each project.

Featured image

A handwritten list of adjectives in thick black marker on white paper under the header "WORDS THAT DESCRIBE 21 MINUS"
TCA planning for 21Minus TCA planning for 21Minus © MCA Chicago

About

Step 6–9: Put it all together

As the ideas and logistics for our team’s projects were finalized, we all came back together to see the big picture of what 21Minus would actually look like and how it would flow overall. Hearing every team’s progress and final decisions made 21Minus seem real, not just in planning. We got one step closer to having everything in place for 21Minus. One step closer to having all our planning come into actuality when all of these amazing projects come together.

Featured image

21Minus, May 17, 2014 Photo: Cooper Chambers-Hines, © MCA Chicago

About

Step 10: Join us!

Come and see how all of our planning has taken shape at 21Minus on May 30 from 2 to 6 pm.

Want to be part of the 21Minus planning process for next year? Applications for the TCA are open. Apply now!