Floodwall: Art Exhibition of Jana Napoli in Berlin

"Drawers Speak - New Orleans Five Years Later"

The US Embassy and Institute of Cultural Diplomacy present
‘Drawers Speak’

(Berlin, 13thSeptember - 08th October 2010)

Executive Summary

Drawers Speak, a complementary program of FloodwallFloodwall, a site-specific art installation from New Orleans composed of 380 drawers that artist Jana Napoli rescued from the debris of Hurricane Katrina Floodwall, a site-specific art installation from New Orleans composed of 380 drawers that artist Jana Napoli rescued from the debris of Hurricane Katrina Floodwall, a site-specific art installation from New Orleans composed of 380 drawers that artist Jana Napoli rescued from the debris of Hurricane Katrina is a youth outreach program which asked Berlin and Brandenburg school students, as a sign of solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the victims of all natural disasters around the world, to take a cardboard box, and imagine that it was a personal drawer. They were then asked to illustrate either five things that they would not want to lose or want somebody to find discarded on the street, or  what they would take with them if they were forced to flee their homes.

Event Overview

After the students completed their “drawers,” they were given the opportunity to present and discuss them with the Floodwall artist, Jana Napoli, and were then presented with special certificates of participation and appreciation. After the workshops, the cardboard boxes were collected and returned to the Kurier Ship, where the Floodwall exhibition is currently on display, with the intention that Jana Napoli will make an exhibition of the drawers themselves. The drawers will also be catalogued on the Drawer Speaks project website, which includes visual representations of other Drawer Speaks workshop drawers from all over the world

Incorporated into the Drawers Speak program, was the Dance Youth for Solidarity program, led by Louisiana natives Carlos Neville and Gentelle Pedescleaux. Carlos, a New Orleans based artist, is a member of the board of directors of YA/YA Inc. (Young Aspirations/Young Artists),  an after-school arts and professional enrichment program with a two-decade track record of setting New Orleans youth on positive and productive paths. Gentelle is a youth choreographer, who, since 2001, has worked with the YMCA, and the Cultural Elite School of Dance of New Orleans, Louisiana, and AmeriCorps of Atlanta, Georgia. She is currently a residential counselor for Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Dance Youth for Solidarity program has stressed the importance of understanding and acceptance in an increasingly diverse world, as well as teaching the importance of art, music, and dance in the implementation of breaking barriers which may prevent the merging of cross-cultures.

During the autumn months of 2010, students of various schools throughout Berlin and Brandenburg have been fortunate enough to experience the components of Floodwall, as well as work with the artists of the Drawer Speaks and Dance Youth for Solidarity programs. Some of the experiences can be viewed below.
Floodwall, a site-specific art installation from New Orleans composed of 380 drawers that artist Jana Napoli rescued from the debris of Hurricane Katrina

Drawers Speak Events

Monday September 13th: The first Drawers Speak workshop took place at FEZ Berlin, Europe’s largest nonprofit family, children, and youth center. The group consisted of approximately 30 students from a local 6th grade English class, all of whom were quite enthralled by the presentation.
Floodwall, a site-specific art installation from New Orleans composed of 380 drawers that artist Jana Napoli rescued from the debris of Hurricane Katrina
Wednesday, September 15th: The Oberschule Schlaubetal had the unique opportunity of conducting their Drawers Speak workshop at the ICD House of Arts and Culture, located within the office building of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. The workshop was then followed by the first Youth Dance for Solidarity component. Fifteen students from the school participated in the events.

Thursday, September 17th: Jana Napoli visited an English class of approximately fifteen students, aged 16-18 years old, at Leibniz-Schule Berlin in Kreuzberg to present her program and explain the concepts behind Floodwall and its exhibition. The teachers and students alike were so fascinated and impressed by the presentation, that several more workshops were arranged to take place at both the school and aboard the Kurier Ship, so that Floodwall could be experienced by even more members of the school.

Friday, September 18th: Gentelle Pedescleaux returned to Leibniz-Schule Berlin the next day to conduct her Dance Youth Solidarity workshop with the same group of students. The students had heard of Gentelle’s program the previous day, while participating in Drawer Speaks, and by the end of the day, were very pleased to have participated in all components of Floodwall.

Monday, September 20th: The Anne Frank Gymnasium, on the southeast border of Berlin and Brandenburg was the next visit for the Drawer Speaks and Dance Youth Solidarity, which was conducted with fourteen students from one of the school’s English classes.

Wednesday, September 22nd:
The Hans und Hilde-Coppi Gymnasium, near the Karlshorst region of Berlin was the setting for the next series of workshops, conducted by both Jana Napoli and Gentelle Pedescleaux. Thirty English class students participated in the day’s activities.

Friday, September 24th:
Friday was a busy day for the Floodwall project, as it consisted of the involvement of two separate schools. The first program took place in the morning at the Berlin School, and was presented to the entire Middle School, consisting of 160 students from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Due to the vast size of the assembly, the students were split into two groups so that a Drawers Speak workshop and a Dance Youth for Solidarity workshop occurred simultaneously. After 45 minutes, the students then switched groups so that they were able to experience both programs.

In the afternoon, the artists departed the Berlin School for the Kurier Ship, where 26 students from the Anne Frank Gymnasium awaited their presentation to Drawers Speak. The students were very enthusiastic to begin the workshop, as fellow classmates had already relayed their experiences with the program, having participated in it on Monday. This group was made up of students from an 11th grade English class, therefore giving nice age diversity to the day’s events.

More events – coming soon

Further Information

For further details about the Floodwall program, including the exhibition, the youth outreach program, or the event series, please see the following link: www.floodwall-berlin.de