The Bubbler is a team of individuals who understand the role that art plays in a community. The program, a project of the Madison Public Library, has connected artists with the city and its youth through countless workshops, programs and exhibitions.
This year, The Bubbler has taken a new approach with one of its recurring artists-in-residence programs. Instead of having a rotation of individual artists in residence for a couple of months, The Bubbler team is switching to a cohort of six artists who will serve for six months.
Coordinator Trent Miller says that the team wanted to pull their work together into one focused project.
“We decided some of the best magic that has happened with The Bubbler over the years has been when multiple artists have kind of collaborated or worked together on a project, and so we decided to see what would happen if we, you know, redid our model of these two-month or three-month residences with an individual artist and focus more on a cohort of artists working together to try to think about like a question or work on a project together,” says Miller.
The Bubbler had been contemplating the idea of a larger community project over the past six months. Once they decided to collaborate with a cohort, The Bubbler team reached out to artists and got the ball rolling.
The new cohort has decided to focus their efforts this year on the idea of belonging. They aim to serve youth, specifically teens, in the community. Engaging and collaborating with teens is the first step towards the cohort’s focus.
“I think, there’s just, we wanna have this big focus on how we can, you know, how we can serve youth. How to serve, you know, teens better in the library and out and about when we’re going out to do projects also. So, but actually, probably not just sitting together as a bunch of adults and trying to figure that out,” says Miller.
“Actually engaging with teens, actually talking to them, doing, you know, art projects and stuff. But as part of that, we’re doing, we’re already starting these projects about, like ‘Who are you?’ and like ‘Oh, what was I like?’ You know, the artists ask, when I was your age. ‘How did I feel about institutions or libraries or youth centers?’ So, just kind of asking those questions, engaging with the youth and just kind of trying to think bigger-picture how we can do what we do better.”
Miller supervised the selection process for the cohort artists. He says that they connected with arts experts and librarians in the community, as well as artists that they’ve worked with in the past. They also conferred with the Racial Equity Change team, the Community Engagement team and the team working on the (YOU)th Belong Project at Madison Public Library.
Since the cohort is still in its beginning stages, they don’t have very many projects underway at the moment. The plan is to have each artist work with different teen groups.
“It’s only been out like a week or so, and we’ve just been meeting with the artists, so we’ve had the artists go out to some. We’re really trying to hit up some of the kind of like neighborhood block parties, other kind of neighborhood events, and we’re also starting to, we’re basically kind of–right now–we’re in this space where we’re connecting all the artists to the projects they’ll be working on for the rest of the year. Right now, there’s a lot of artists going to more general projects. You know, pop-up things; but then, we’re getting them more deeply involved in working with a particular targeted group of teens,” says Miller.
However, they have begun to work with the Wanda Fullmore Internship Program, which engages teens and gives them the opportunity to work paid internships around the city.
Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli is a member of this year’s cohort. She’s also a WORT volunteer. Javier-Cerulli has assisted The Bubbler in their work with the Wanda Fullmore program and plans to participate in other Madison Public Library events, such as Serendipity Saturdays and Art in the Alley. Serendipity Saturdays are drop-in, make-and-take art programs for youth, whereas Art in the Alley is a series that provides hands-on art experiences for youth.
Javier-Cerulli had done work with The Bubbler prior to being a part of the cohort. This is her first time being a part of a long-term artist-in-residence program, and she’s looking forward to offering new experiences to the community.
“I want the community to experience. I want them to experience different art materials that are not, they haven’t experienced before, like pan pastels, alcohol inks, possibly. Or, like, bigger art-making experiences like making a mural. I would like the community to just engage and try something new. With comes a sense of accomplishment, trying something new, just stress relief, fun, showing that Madison is a fun place and a safe place, and I want the community members to also engage with adults of a diverse background. So, that would be my goals,” says Javier-Cerulli.
This year’s cohort artists will continue their work with The Bubbler until the end of this year. Other members of the cohort are Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, Amadou Kromah, Teena Wilder, Papa-Kobina Brewoo and Sylvie Rosenthal.
A new artist-in-residence program will be ushered in for the entire year of 2022. Miller says that a longer program like this will give people more of an opportunity to get involved.
As the summer progresses and the cohort is able to connect more with the community, more projects will arise from The Bubbler.
Reporting for WORT News, I’m Hailey Griffin.
Image Courtesy: Trent Miller / The Bubbler