Marion Wilson’s ‘Artists and Social Profit’ class trades art for social good in traveling exhibit

In time for the holiday season, a weeklong community art show will explore the value of creativity and culture as a commodity, versus the value of commercial gifts of exchange. The MLAB (Mobile Literacy Arts Bus) and 601 Tully, in collaboration with School of Education Professor Marion Wilson’s “Artists for Social Profit” class, have created a traveling art exhibition called “Trade Show,” which will debut in the sculpture yard behind the Syracuse University ComArt facility on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Using resources from the community around 601 Tully, students of the class created pieces of art for everyday use that satisfied an element or condition of food, shelter, clothing or happiness. These works serve as the foundational pieces of the “Trade Show,” and in each place to which the exhibition travels, community members will be invited to create their own similar pieces of art to trade for one of the other products in the show. Everyone who participates has a product in the show, and in return gets a work of art back.

“By offering art objects as gifts or objects for barter or exchange, we are calling into question the price tag that gets put onto art objects and inviting all people to own works of art,” Wilson says.

In addition to Syracuse University, the exhibit will stop at Recess Coffee on Westcott Street (Nov. 29, 2-5 p.m.), Nojaim Bros. Supermarket (Dec. 1, 9 a.m.-noon), and finish at 601 Tully for the final showing on Dec. 6, 6-9 p.m. At each stop, new artists and community members are welcome to make trades with their artwork that provide an element of food, shelter, clothing or happiness.

John Cardone, Imagining America Engagement Fellow and Art Program Coordinator for 601 Tully, participated in the development of the “Trade Show” project this fall. He says that the project places products of art into an “alternative economy where mutual exchange becomes the new currency. It makes fine art and design accessible to those who may be cut off by economic or social barriers.”

601 Tully is a community center for engaged art and research located on the Near West Side of Syracuse. Committed to the coproduction of new culture, 601 Tully hosts public programs, exhibitions and classes.