The Anna Freud School as Guests at the URBAN NATION

  • by Geneviève Debien

Every year, the students and future educators of the Anna Freund School develop preventive offers. This time, on October 29, 2021, came the project group “prejudice-conscious rapedagogy”. Here the future educators learn to teach the young people a conscious approach to the culture of hip hop.

Powered by the Stiftung Berliner Leben, the group learned how to create their own stencils in a four-hour workshop. They also received a guided tour of the exhibition “Martha Cooper: Taking Pictures” at the URBAN NATION Museum.

The focus here was on learning methods for creating stencils, as well as how to use tools, materials from the graffiti scene and, last but not least, how to create with the spray can, including special tips for educational work with children and young people.

The exhibition visit gave the participants the opportunity to be inspired by numerous works of renowned graffiti and street art artists. Documentary photographer and the most important urban art photographer in the world Martha Cooper has been capturing subcultural and vernacular art and architecture in urban spaces for over 40 years. The genesis of graffiti in New York City would be impossible to reconstruct without her photographic work. 

The Bülowkiez is – keyword site specific – also part of this: with its One-Walls and Community-Walls. Many street artists from numerous countries around the world have already immortalized themselves on facades and in building entrances around the URBAN NATION Museum. So a wall art tour was the obvious choice. From the different techniques and styles, the participants were able to gather ideas for their own stencils. They also learned about the origins and backgrounds of the works and the history of urban art in general.

Based on these sources of inspiration, students moved on to the practical phase of the workshop. As soon a s they arrived at the workshop, they were surprised by the world-renowned street art artist Nafir. He was just finishing his work in the entrance area, which provided an up-close look at the Iranian artist’s working process. 

Thereupon, the workshopleading artist Marycula welcomed the participants and the creative process started. First, the students made sketches for their motifs, drawing inspiration from the things that are important to them. “I like that I can get my worldview across in my graffiti.” one student shared. She chose a self-designed symbol that expresses peace and tolerance regardless of gender or sexuality. Others chose their mother’s name, favorite band, or symbols for fall or home. Once everyone had made their sketches, they were cut out with special cutter knives – delicate enough to cut fine details. The artist gave helpful advice on specific methods for stencil design, as well as tricks to make it easy and safe to do with children.

With the help of the finished stencils, they sprayed outside the workshop. Thanks to mutual support, the participants created lively motifs with several colors. But the surprises did not end that day: Martha Cooper herself walked into the workshop and smiled curiously at the group. Friendly conversations quickly ensued, souvenir pictures were taken, and even autographs were distributed. After a total of four hours of workshop, a joint group picture finally rounded off the eventful project day, from which the group came closer to their research subject: “Hip-hop is one of the largest and most influential youth cultures. Basically, it’s about self-empowerment, but often content is misused and misapplied. In this project, we learn to establish contact with young people and also to teach them how to deal critically with the cultural form,” says the lead teacher about the project.

Photos: Sebastian Kläbsch

Involved Persons