Beginning of my internship at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and WonderRoot

My name is Dominique Cornitcher and I am a rising Junior at the University of Michigan. I study International Studies with a minor in Art & Design with the hope to work in a career where I can use creative and innovative methods to transform the lives of those in need.

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation connected me with one of their local partners, WonderRoot, to complete an internship through them this summer. WonderRoot is an arts organization that works to improve the cultural and social landscape of Atlanta through creative initiatives and community partnerships. As it pertains to my internship, I have the opportunity to work on an upcoming project that is a partnership between WonderRoot, the City of Atlanta, the Arthur M. Blank Foundation, and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee called Off The Wall: Atlanta’s Civil Rights and Social Justice Journey.

As Super Bowl LIII arrives to Atlanta in 2019, Atlanta has the opportunity to elevate the many stories of the struggle for rights for all. Off the Wall is a city-wide initiative organized by WonderRoot and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee taking place June 2018 through February 2019. Through murals, media, and community conversations, Off the Wall will share elements of Atlanta’s civil rights and social justice journey, elevating key stories and ideas present in our city’s pursuit of civil rights, human rights, and a more equitable future for all Atlantans. Nine muralists selected by our Artist Selection Committee will work with community partners to design and install artworks that represent the long journey toward this brighter future. The content of the murals will be informed by integral community conversations that will uplift the experiences, stories, and priorities of Atlanta’s civil rights past, present, and future.

Off the Wall was a really special project I instantly felt connected to. I am from Atlanta, so it was always important for me to come home for my internship. I know that in my fight for global change, it was pertinent that I started in my own hometown. It is also greatly aligned with my goals for the future in that it works at the intersection of art and social change. Lastly, after almost two years of the internal fight within the NFL and players kneeling, in which it has become a political and divisive debate, it was important for me to be involved in this project that is using the leverage of the Super Bowl to talk about the continuing struggle both Atlanta, and the nation, deals with when it comes to human rights.

I am a very big-picture person. I instantly fell in love with the concept of such a large and monumental initiative that I feel my city and our country needs right now. However, through this internship, I hope to learn more about the day-to-day work that is necessary for such a big initiative. On a personal note, through attending these community conversations that will inform the mural designs, I will learn more about the untold and intersectional stories of Atlanta residents.

Challenges I foresee with this project is how political and personal this project is for all. We want to make sure that the story we tell is the Black Liberation Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, as well as, women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, police brutality, immigrant rights, rights of the differently abled, economic justice, and all other civil rights issues visible in our communities. I also foresee that balancing the leverage of the Super Bowl does not overpower the true mission of this project will be very difficult. These murals are permanent and will live in the City of Atlanta’s public art collection. These murals will live on way after the Super Bowl and we hope its impression on the communities we connect with during this time outlast a football game. Lastly, challenges I personally think about is how we will deal with and measure real social change outside of the murals. For me, true success of this project not only ensures mural installation but public discourse, personal transformation, and policy change.

 

For more information, please visit offthewallatl.org

 

2 thoughts on “Beginning of my internship at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and WonderRoot

  • July 13, 2018 at 6:14 pm
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    Hi Dominique!

    My name is Danielle LaJoie and I work in the Information Services area of the LSA Opportunity Hub. I’ll be reading and commenting on your blog posts throughout the remainder of the summer!

    I’m so excited to hear more about your internship, it sounds like a perfect fit for you. I am so impressed by the amount of thought and care that you’ve already put into evaluating how personal and political this project will be for yourself, your fellow staff, and the organizations you are representing. It seems like you will definitely be able to provide a great perspective during the internship because you are from Atlanta. Have you learned what your day to day responsibilities will be for the project yet? I’m so interested to hear what it takes to pull off such an incredible project. It might also be worth it to talk with other staff and your supervisor to see how you will be able to measure social change outside of the murals. What will that look like and how can you make sure you are satisfied with the work you’ve done when your internship is over?

    Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    – Danielle

    Reply
    • July 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm
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      Hi Danielle. It has been a blast! As for day to day, there is always something new. One day we will be driving around Atlanta on a wall tour choosing the 30 walls we will use for the murals, to planning public engagement events, to office work simply emailing back and forth with possible community partners. However, the back bone of this project that will happen from July-September are the community conversations that will inform the content of these mural designs. My role for these conversations is as an archivist, documenting the many experiences and stories of the communities represented. In my next post, I will probably discuss my role in the conversations, the importance of these community partners, and the general need for public discourse to help communities through the process of understanding their issues and how to move forward.

      Reply

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