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Uptown Art provides children a stress-free environment to create – Williams Lake Tribune

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The Uptown Art Program celebrated another successful year of helping children create art at the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre.

Pottery creations including masks, bowls and cups were all on display alongside classic paintings, drawings and pour art medallions. Around a dozen or so people were in attendance at the show Tuesday, Dec. 17, enjoying some pizza and conversation as they took in the gentle ambiance.

Shelley Neufeld, the child youth care and family support worker at the CCCDC, said they’ve been running this program for about the last four years. Each year they apply for funding from the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society that provides them with funds courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake.

Neufeld said the grant is greatly appreciated as it pays for facilitators from the Cariboo Potters Guild and other artists and art groups in town to come in and teach the children various crafts and disciplines.

“It’s a very comfortable program for the children because they don’t feel pressured (to do things a certain way) we’re just kind of there to support them with whatever their project is going be,” Neufeld said.

Most of the children and teens that attend the art program typically don’t have access to other art programs and need a little bit of extra support, she said. For those with anxiety, Neufeld said most find they’re able to attend this program, and those that still needed support had their parents there to help them before eventually attending on their own.

The program begins in June and runs weekly until the end of December, usually on a Monday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each year they try to add and incorporate new forms of art the children can experiment with as they did with fibre arts this year. Often times they’ll base their plans around what those in the program say they’re interested in, meaning they’d be open to doing performing arts like drama should interest be shown in it.

“I think (what I enjoy) the most is just seeing the kids be able to show their creativity no matter how it comes out. They get comfortable socially with each other so you start seeing them supporting one another, especially the older with younger ones who, if they see them struggling, they’ll actually get up to go and help them,” Neufeld said.

Read More: Uptown Art encourages creativity and expression

Next year they hope to do more work with the Williams Lake Spinners, Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild and get some of the older teenagers working on looms.

Doing something with dance is something Neufeld wanted to do this year but was unable to arrange so she hopes to implement it next year.

On and off this year, Neufeld said, they had around 13 children and teens take part in the program throughout the year.

She feels this program is a great way to foster and inspire an interest in the arts for young children and introduce them to organizations they might join themselves in the future.

Helping them find out who they are artistically in a safe environment is also another reason Neufeld feels the program should continue to receive support.

One of the young artists that took part in the program was Sydney Hamm who was in attendance with her siblings and parents at the art show. She said she and the other children made “all kinds of stuff really” including masks, ornaments, plates, paintings and other assorted items.

Hamm said she wanted to take part in the program because it sounded cool and because she enjoys drawing, which she thinks of as a natural talent. Her favourite project they did was clay mask making, which became personal for her when she chose to make a mask of her dog Bogey, a nine-year-old German Shepherd her family had to put down this year.

“It felt pretty good (to make the mask) because I know I’d be able to see him more than just in pictures, I’d be able to see him a little more often,” Hamm said.

Given the chance, Hamm said she would definitely attend the Uptown Art Program again next year because of how fun it was and how little pressure was a part of the whole process. She’d invited any lakecity child interested in taking part to come by the CCCDC next year and check it out.



patrick.davies@wltribune.com

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The Art of Communicating Risk – Harvard Business Review

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Executive Summary

Sometimes during a crisis we don’t know how bad the situation really is. Consider the following scenario involving a data privacy violations: A company discovers that sensitive data about a user is exposed in an unencrypted database for 24 hours. Has anyone accessed it? If so, what, if anything, can they glean from it? Firms facing the question of whether and how to communicate risk often err too far in either direction. When organizations alert their customers to every potential risk, they create notification fatigue.  When firms wait too long to communicate in an effort to shield users from unnecessary worry customers interpret time lags as incompetence, or worse, as obfuscation.  The answer is to trust that customers can process uncertainty, as long as it’s framed in the right way. Using techniques from behavioral science, the authors suggest better ways to communicate uncertain risks in way that will protect customers and foster trust.

jayk7/Getty Images

Most organizations can cope with straightforward bad news, and so can most people. We absorb the shock, and move on. But what happens when we don’t know how bad the news actually is?

When it comes to crises, the news companies must deliver is often potential bad news. How should a technology company react when it learns that it might have suffered a breach of your data, or a supermarket discovers it might have sold you contaminated lettuce, or a medical device maker learns that patients may have a defective hip replacement? Communicating about uncertainty — what people call ‘risk communications’ in practice — has become one of the most important challenges faced by anyone who needs to convey or consume information.

Risk communications are more important than ever during the current pandemic. Scientists, policy-makers, and companies alike are uncertain of many basic facts about Covid-19 with crucial implications for personal and societal decisions. How infectious is this new virus? How likely is it to kill people? What will be its long-term economic, social, and cultural consequences?

Even before Covid-19 hit, communications were increasingly becoming an important part of corporate and organizational management. Consider the following scenario involving a data privacy violations: A company discovers that sensitive data about a user is exposed in an unencrypted database for 24 hours. Has anyone accessed it? If so, what can they do with it right now? What will they be able to do with it five years from now, with machine learning techniques that will be available at that time? The answers are typically, we don’t really know. That is not an assessment that most organizations or individuals know how to deliver in an effective way. This has major consequences for individual firms and for firms collectively. The tech sector, in particular, has suffered a large and growing trust deficit with users, customers, and regulators, in part because tech companies struggle to communicate what they do and do not know about the side effects of their products in ways that are transparent and meaningful.

When we talked to experts across eight industry sectors, we uncovered a common dilemma: firms facing the question of whether and how to communicate risk often err too far in either direction. When organizations alert their customers to every potential risk, they create notification fatigue. Customers tend to tune out after a short while, and firms lose an opportunity to strengthen a trust relationship with the subset of customers who really might have been at most risk.

When firms do the opposite — for example by waiting too long to communicate in an effort to shield users from unnecessary worry — there is also a price. Customers interpret time lags as incompetence, or worse, as obfuscation and protection of corporate reputations at the expense of protecting customers. The more mis-steps firms make in either direction, the greater the trust deficit becomes, and the harder it is to thread the needle and get the communications right.

To make matters worse, individual firms have a collective effect when they communicate about uncertainty with customers and other stakeholders. The average citizen and customer is the target of many such communications coming from a variety of sources – with a cumulative impact on notification fatigue and ultimately the level of ambient trust between firms and the public. It’s an ugly bundle of negative externalities that compound an already difficult problem.

We believe it doesn’t have to continue this way. Decision science and cognitive psychology have produced some reliable insights about how people on both sides of an uncertainty communication can do better.

The inherent challenge for risk communicators is people’s natural desire for certainty and closure. An experimental Russian roulette game illustrates this most poignantly: forced to play Russian roulette with a 6-chamber revolver containing either 1 bullet or 4 bullets, most people would pay a lot more to remove the single bullet in the first instance than to remove a single bullet in the second instance (even though the risk reduction is the same). Kahneman and Tversky called this “the certainty effect,” and it explains why zero-deductible insurance policies are over-priced and yet people still buy them.

But while they don’t like it, people can process uncertainty, especially if they are armed with some standard tools for decision making. Consider the “Drug Facts Box,” developed by researchers at Dartmouth.

As far back as the late 1970s, behavioral scientists criticized the patient package inserts that were included with prescription drugs as absurdly dense and full of jargon. The drug facts box (developed in the 1990s) reversed the script. It built on a familiar template from people’s common experience (the nutrition fact box that appears on food packaging) and was designed to focus attention on the information that would directly inform decision-making under uncertainty. It uses numbers, rather than adjectives like ‘rare,’ ‘common,’ or ‘positive results.’ It addresses risks and benefits, and in many cases compares a particular drug to known alternatives. Importantly, it also indicates the quality of the evidence to-date. It’s not perfect, but research suggests that it works pretty well, both in extensive testing with potential users through randomized trials and in practice where it has been shown to improve decision making by patients.

So why aren’t basic principles from the science of risk communications being applied more widely in technology, finance, transportation, and other sectors? Imagine an “Equifax data breach fact box” created to situate the 2017 data-breach incident and the risks for customers. The fact box could indicate whether the Equifax breach was among the 10 largest breaches of the last 5 years. It would provide a quantitative assessment of the consequences that follow from such breaches, helping people assess what to expect in this case. For example: “In the last five data breaches of over 100 million records, on average 3% of people whose records were stolen reported identity theft within a year.”

Or, imagine a “Deepwater Horizon fact box,” that listed for the public the most important potential side effects of oil spills on marine and land ecosystems, and a range for estimating their severity. We’ve come to the view that these two examples and countless others didn’t happen that way, largely because most people working in communications functions don’t believe that users and customers can deal reasonably with uncertainty and risk.

Of course, the Equifax breach and Deepwater Horizon oil spills are extreme examples of crisis-level incidents, and in the Equifax case, disclosure was legally mandated. But firms make decisions everyday about whether and how to communicate about less severe incidents, many of which do not have mandated disclosure requirements. In the moment, it’s easy for companies to default to a narrow response of damage control, instead of understanding risk communications as a collective problem, which, when done well, can enhance trust with stakeholders.

To start to repair the trust deficit will require a significant retrofit of existing communications practices. Here are three places to start.

Stop improvising. Firms will never be able to reduce uncertainty to zero, but they can commit to engaging with customers around uncertainty in systematic, predictable ways. A standard framework would provide an empirically proven, field-tested playbook for the next incident or crisis. Over time, it would set reasonable expectations among users and customers for what meaningful and transparent communication looks like under uncertainty, help increase the public’s risk fluency, and limit the damage inflicted by nefarious actors who prey on the public’s anxieties about risk. Ideally, this standard would be created by a consortium of firms across different sectors. Widespread adoption by organizations would level the playing field for all firms, and raise the bar for smaller firms that lack the required competencies in-house.

Change the metric for success, and measure results. Avoiding negative press should not be the primary objective for firms that are faced with communicating uncertainty. In the short term, the primary goal should be to equip customers with the information they need to interpret uncertainty and act to manage their risk. In the long term, the goal should be to increase levels of ambient trust and to reduce risks where possible. Communicators need to demonstrate that what they are doing is working, by creating yardsticks that rigorously measure the effectiveness of communications against both these short and long term goals.

Design for risk communications from the beginning. Consider what it would mean if every product were built from the start with the need to communicate uncertainty about how it will perform when released into the wild — that is, “risk communication by design.” If risk communications were pushed down through organizations into product development, we’d see innovation in user experience and user interface design for communicating about uncertainty with customers. We’d see cognitive psychology and decision science skills integrated into product teams. And we’d see feedback loops built directly into products as part of the design process, telling firms whether they are meaningfully improving customers’ ability to make informed choices.

People are naturally inclined to prefer certainty and closure, but in a world where both are in short supply, trust deficits aren’t an inevitable fact of nature. We’re optimistic that organizations can do better collectively by making disciplined use of the existing science.

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Making Art When ‘Lockdown’ Means Prison – The New York Times

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We’re living in a post-fact time, but that doesn’t mean there are no facts. Here are some. The United States has the largest population of captive human beings on earth, around 2.4 million, and an outsized percentage of them are Black. Since the 1980s, prison life sentences have quadrupled; the minimum age for imprisonment has dropped; the use of solitary confinement, sometimes referred to as “no-touch torture,” has grown.

The result is the prison-industrial complex we know, a punitive universe walled off from the larger world. What takes place behind those walls? Deprivation and cruelty, but also the production of art, as we learn from “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” a stirring 44-artist show at the reopened MoMA PS1.

A beta version of the show appeared in 2018 at the Aperture Foundation in Manhattan, organized by Nicole R. Fleetwood, a professor of American studies and art history at Rutgers University. Ms. Fleetwood is also guest curator of the MoMA PS 1 exhibition and author of a lucid new book that provides the show’s title and defines what she calls “carceral aesthetics,” an art shaped by radically constricted space, an untethered institutional time and material scarcity.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Among materials in short supply are traditional art media, so substitutes have to be found. During a 20-year confinement in an Ohio state prison beginning in 1991, the inmate-artist Dean Gillispie constructed tabletop fantasy version of images from his working class childhood: miniature gas stations, movie houses, and roadside diners. He built them from scavenged trash — Popsicle sticks, cigarette-pack foil and recycled tea bags — held together with pins purloined from the prison sewing shop. (His was a high-profile case of wrongful conviction for rape, kidnapping and burglary before the Ohio Innocence Project secured his release; the indictment was dismissed in 2015.)

In 2012, at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, N.J., Gilberto Rivera, a former Brooklyn street artist, also made use of resources at hand. In angry reaction to a hostile encounter with a guard, he created a big, messy action-painting style assemblage from prison documents and a torn-up inmate uniform, using floor wax — his prison job was mopping floors — as a binder. He titled the results “An Institutional Nightmare.”

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

How he managed to hide the piece, which is in the show, and then spirit it out of the prison, I don’t know. But the challenges can’t have been as great as those faced by another Fairton inmate, Jesse Krimes, who had the task of preserving a much larger work of his own.

Mr. Krimes had just graduated from college with an art degree in 2008 when he was arrested and sentenced to jail on a drug offense. (With few exceptions, Ms. Fleetwood steers clear of mentioning the specific reasons the artists in the show were incarcerated, presumably to avoid having their art read through the lens of criminality.) He quickly came to understand how psychologically damaging the prison environment could be, and knew that only a focus on art-making would save his sanity.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

From this realization came what turned out to be a carceral magnum opus: a cinematically scaled, labor intensive heaven-and-hell landscape composed of images culled from newspapers, fashion glossies and art magazines, with all the images transfer-printed — using hair gel as a medium — onto more than three dozen prison-issued bedsheets. With the help of fellow inmates and cooperative guards, he was able, over three years, to mail the sheets, one at a time, out to friends. It was only after his release in 2014 that he got to see the panels united as a single work measuring 15 feet tall and 40 feet wide. He called it “Apokaluptein 16389067,” combining the Greek verb “to reveal” and his prison number.

No less ambitious in scale, though executed in much smaller increments, is a room-filling piece by Mark Loughney, who is in prison in Pennsylvania. Titled “Pyrrhic Defeat: A Visual Study of Mass Incarceration,” it’s a wraparound floor-to-ceiling installation of some 500 head-shot-style drawings of the artist’s prison mates. In the most recent depictions, done after the beginning of the pandemic, the sitters wear face masks.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

As Ms. Fleetwood writes in her book, one of the calculated effects of incarceration is the breaking down of the prisoner’s sense of individuality and agency. Portraits, which are highly valued in prison communities, and self-portraits are an assertion of both.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A self-portrait by Mr. Loughney is an example: It’s part of the portrait ensemble but, done in bright blue ink, it also stands out. A painted self-portrait by the San Francisco artist Ronnie Goodman, who did time for burglary at San Quentin State Prison, is comparably self-defining. He depicts himself making prints in a prison workshop with his portraits of other inmates hanging on the wall behind him. (Released in 2016, Mr. Goodman died in one of the city’s homeless encampments earlier this year.)

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

There are many self-depictions in the show. An imposing one by Russell Craig — a self-taught artist who, since his release from Graterford State Prison, has painted public murals in his native Philadelphia — is nine-feet tall and fills a gallery wall. Another, called “Locked in a Dark Calm” by Tameca Cole, is standard printer paper size. Made in reaction to an incident of jail mistreatment, it’s a collage of a fragmented female face emerging from, or sinking into, a sea of densely scribbled graphic lines.

And an exquisite pencil self-portrait by Billy Sell (1976-2013) feels as personal as a signature. Serving a life sentence in a California prison for attempted murder, and kept in isolation there, Mr. Sell died while participating in a statewide prison hunger strike protesting solitary confinement. Prison officials called his death a suicide, though the cause has since been questioned.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Mr. Sell is one of several artists in the show involved in political activism while incarcerated. Another is Ojure Lutalo, arrested in 1975 while robbing a bank to gain funds for a Black revolutionary group. He spent much of his 22 years in isolation units where he produced hundreds of text-intensive collages protesting institutional racism. He is straightforward in calling his work “visual propaganda,” though not all the political art in the show is as bluntly instrumental.

In an outstanding contribution, James “Yaya” Hough — sentenced, at 17, to life without parole for murder, and released after 27 years in 2019 — fills two gallery walls with fantastically nightmarish line drawings of figures that shape-shift between male and female, punisher and punished.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Some of these works were made years after an inmate’s release, showing how the unsettling conditions of prison continued to shape their lives. In a 2018 video, “Ain’t I a Woman,” Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, who goes by the hip-hop name Isis Tha Saviour, re-enacts a traumatic event in her own past — she went through labor in prison while shackled to a stretcher — to address the historical subjugation of Black women. The video’s title is a quote from the abolitionist and former slave Sojourner Truth.

It is one of several works in the show that link mass incarceration to slavery. A painting by Jared Owens overlays a blueprint of a modern prison with an 18th-century diagram of a slave ship. Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick document notoriously brutal daily life at Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana, built on the site of a 19th-century cotton plantation.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Neither Mr. Calhoun nor Ms. McCormick has been incarcerated, nor have a few other artists Ms. Fleetwood has included, among them Sarah Bennett, Maria Gaspar, and Sable Elyse Smith. In that sense they’re coming to the subject from outside. Yet in their work the political and personal feel inseparable. And in the show, overall, inside and outside, guilt and innocence, perpetrator and victim feel like fluid concepts.

Ms. Smith’s art — sculpture, performance, poetry — is framed by the fact that her father began a life sentence for murder when she was 10. His subsequent absence — and, indirectly, the crime he was convicted of — have shaped her life and her growing and remarkable body of art.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The impetus for the exhibition itself had a similar source. Ms. Fleetwood’s longstanding interest in the inequities of the American prison system began with her own experience of having close male relatives serving long-term sentences. Her firsthand account of these realities, and their effect on her extended African-American family, forms the moving final chapter of her book.

In the end, the exhibition — which Ms. Fleetwood organized with the curators Amy Rosenblum-Martin, Jocelyn Miller and Josephine Graf — complicates the definition of crime itself, expanding it beyond the courtroom into American society.

It’s a society in which racism often determines presumption of guilt; in which imprisonment — human disempowerment and erasure — is chosen over righting the inequities that lead to prison. It’s a society in which caging people is big corporate business, with connections reaching everywhere, including the art world. This was made clear in recent protests targeting museum trustees — Tom Gores, the private equity investor, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Larry Fink, chairman and chief executive of BlackRock, at MoMA — for their investments in the prison-industrial complex.

The scales of justice are sensitive and shifting. The only way to rightly balance them is with a steady, passionate eye and a judicious touch, and that’s where art itself comes in.


Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Through April 4 at MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens; moma.org/ps1. Entry is by advance timed tickets.

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Walk your way through art: Newmarket Group of Artists studio tour gets a remodel – yorkregion.com

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Instead of visiting various local art studios, the annual Newmarket ArtWalk and Studio Tour is hitting the gallery.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2020 Newmarket ArtWalk and Studio Tour: Gallery Edition.

DATE AND TIME


To accommodate physical distancing, the art festival has been extended from two to nine days. The special studio tour gallery is open daily Sept. 26 to Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last viewing time slot set at 4:40 p.m. 

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HOW TO ATTEND

Admission to the 2020 ArtWalk and Studio Tour: Gallery Edition is free. As space is limited, patrons are required to book an art viewing time online to peruse the gallery. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated as space allows. 

ON DISPLAY

Close to 20 local artists will be showcasing their artwork during the Gallery Edition tour, from local painters and jewelry makers to metalsmiths and ceramic artist. Artwork is available for sale at the gallery show and through the online gallery shop.

LOCATION

Instead of walking from studio to studio, participating artists will be housed in one location, 1235 Gorham St., unit 1, Newmarket. Free on-street parking is available. Displays on the second floor are not wheelchair accessible.

COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS

Patrons are required to pre-book a viewing time to ensure physical distancing as gallery space is limited. Masks are required within the gallery space and hand sanitizer is available. No walk-ins will be permitted opening day, Sept. 26.

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