Begun in Fall of 2019, this work was a collaborative effort with students from Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship. An image of backpacks hanging along a wall adorns the Pennsylvania Department of Education website; but for students book bags can represent so much more: status, wealth, security, success and struggle. When I asked one 8th grader what she kept in her book bag..."stress" she said.
All words in the background are the words of the students. All drawings in silver are the drawings of the students, enlarged and traced.
"I always envisioned completing this artwork with the students in the classroom, but by Spring 2020, the pandemic had decided otherwise. I waited another 6 months to try again in the Fall but it couldn't play out. I finally completed the work in December of 2020 using student ideas and images. I tried my best to replicate their handiwork and marks to keep it raw and authentic. This work reassures me that, like my friend Bob says, 'The actual best art is kid art'.
Only panels 1 and 3 are hung in the gallery."