Listen: This past summer, I spent the bulk of my time trying to get young people to do something that's pretty hard for just about anybody — to be interviewed and feel comfortable. By the end, I felt like I'd made some progress in my approach, but because of the alien nature of the interviewing context, I've conceded that there will always be at least a seed of tension going into an interview.
For my second interview at TRUE Skool, I could sense that apprehension in Sierra. She was certainly down for the interview, but there was a bit of mic-shyness that shaped the beginning of our conversation. After talking about her background with art and her approach to making art and how TRUE Skool had exposed her to new art-making experiences, we decided to look at her art.
When her sketchbooks opened, Sierra found her confidence. I could feel her ease, and she spoke with an edge of excitement (scroll to the bottom for the audio piece).
I wanted to include this short piece of extra tape — Sierra and I stood in front of the painting she'd recently completed while she explained what was going on. (That's us talking about it directly above.)
And here towards the bottom of this post, I want to throw in a short note about my approach to the two pieces I did this week with TRUE Skool. The problems of our community are well documented in the media. In contrast, to put it very straightforwardly, our approach at 88Nine is unapologetically positive in its focus. In telling stories from that other direction, we do not turn a blind-eye to the complexity inherent in a big, diverse community like Milwaukee.
In these two pieces, I spoke with young people who have worked with TRUE Skool and allowed them, without anyone hanging over their shoulder, to express themselves. This is a voice I've found sorely underrepresented in the dialogue about TRUE Skool in recent months. There is far too much ferocity devoted to criticizing and condemning certain parts of our community — it is my hope that we can approach understanding with that same ferocity.
Want to get involved with TRUE Skool? Volunteer or donate! Contact them and let them know that you want to connect. Also, you can see them in action at the this Friday’s MAM After Dark. They’re putting on a full-on B-Boy Battle… a round robin break dancing tournament in Windhover Hall? What? That’s crazy and amazing!
Produced by: Adam Carr