I originally got involved with RestART as a student in the Service Learning in the Arts course taught at the UW by professor Gail Simpson. The course partnered students with local organizations that engaged the community through art. RestART was ran at the time by Becky Redelings, who would travel between 6 community centers every week spreading something called ‘Restorative Justice’. Essentially, kids who had gotten in trouble with the law would meet with her and create collaborative mural projects which would then get donated to their respective communities in exchange for getting their charges dropped. The concept completely revolutionized the way I think about the relationship between our communities and the law.
Becky eventually had to pull out of the project due to work responsibilities, but thanks to funding from the Puffin Foundation and later Madison Public Library, I was able to extend it for two additional semesters. We worked with the high schoolers from Lussier Community Center that spring semester.
Every week, a van full of teens would come meet us at a different location around campus to learn a new art form. Our first semester we had a guest artist every week, but I ended up leading the majority of the workshops our second semester due to the amount of logistical planning required to host so many guests.