Statements on Wood
A travelling communal artwork on children's safer peer cultures
What do children hope from their friendships and what kinds of feelings and emotions do friendships involve? What in is important, unfair, hurtful or confusing for children in their friendships? How do the different expectations related to being a boy or a girl affect friendships?
Statements on Wood is a communal artwork produced with children as part of the FIRE collective’s arts-based workshops on pre-teen peer cultures. At the core of this artwork are the experiences, hopes and transformative visions related to peer relationships and emerging relationship cultures expressed by 5th and 6th grade children. It conveys for decision makers, educators, and other children in powerful ways how children would like to see their peer cultures become safer.
Co-creating activist art
Statements on wood is combines the works of more than 200 children who have participated in our workshops over the years. The base of the artwork is a 2-meter-wide oval plywood board made of birch. This board has been at the centre of the Friendship Workshops and its surface has been covered with ‘lines of emotion’ that children have drawn during our workshops when exploring their moods and feelings in the beginning of the workshop days.
After a series of workshops with children, we designed and planned a spin-off workshop where a group of new children were invited to participate to co-create a communal artwork. In that workshop children explored and pondered first anonymous experiences that had accumulated from children during our previous workshops. Children could also write their own ideas, thoughts and visions related to what is fun and joyful, unwanted, or desired in friendships and emerging romantic relationships. Children then wrote down selection of experiences on paper, carefully tore them to small paper notes and plastered them on the surface of wooden board. The surface of the plywood thus became plastered with strips of paper in which children have written their experiences, dreams and visions for change in relation to their friendship and peer cultures.
The result, Statements on Wood, merges research, art, creativity and children’s experiences and thoughts as over eighty statements come together in this activist, communal artwork.
Moving (with) art
Statements of Wood was made to travel in public spaces as part of the FIRE collective's research-activist work to intervene in and address gendered and sexual harassment and to support safer peer cultures. The artwork was first on exhibition on April 7 to May 5, 2022 in the central lobby of the University of Oulu. In addition to the artwork itself, this event included pictures by media producer Sami Hänninen, capturing moments from the process of making and printed on wood.
The elements of the artwork are produced by the FIRE collective together with children.
The curation and implementation of the exhibition: Eveliina Puutio, Päivi Jokinen, Suvi Pihkala, Satu Suvanto, Helena Louhela, Sami Hänninen ja Tuija Huuki.