Sunday, July 29, 2012

The GHOST STORY of "The 94 Effect" Project

Ok, I've put it off long enough.  Gather 'round the campfire, kiddies, it's story time.

So If you've been reading this blog, you know that I'm an intern working under a muralist (I call her Andrea on here... not sure if I should use her real name) for the Mural Arts Program here in Philadelphia.  For 3-4 days a week, you can find us painting up the outside of a public pool in a North Philly neighborhood, usually in shorts and bathing suits, sweating and dripping in the Summer-on-the-East-Coast humidity. One or two days a week, we're in Andrea's studio, working on a different project.

This other non-mural project, is called "The 94 Effect".  The deal is, some psychiatrist had this theory that 94 people are affected by every murder that happens.  From the victim's neighbors to their math teacher to their sister, people all around a murder victim are somehow affected by it.  So the project was going to be a sort of anti-violence/awareness tool, and involve at-risk kids somehow.  So in the first stages, Andrea held a 5-day summer art workshop with some local high school juniors and seniors, at this "really CREEPY building" (her words. I was not here in Philly yet when they all did this). The kids all came up with a fictional murder story, victim, and 94 characters to be affected by it.  For each character, the kids gave them a name, a relationship to the victim, and a description of how they felt about the whole thing.  Along with this little write-up, each character got a "junk sculpture" to represent them.  The kids did a really great job and sounds like they had a blast making these things out of old bottles, glitter, shattered auto glass, sequined fabric, styrofoam shapes, etc etc....just super creative, fun sculptures out of all this crazy stuff.  Andrea and I's job, is to gather up all these sculptures and make them all into one cohesive piece to be displayed in the public (still not sure where it's going to be yet). So our solution was, we got 2 gigantic frames (like 4' x 8' - BIG) and wove all this string in them to create kind of a web. Then, we've been weaving these sculptures into the framed web. That's not all.... with the project budget, we also had enough to hire an engineer to make us these little LED lights that pulse slowly on and off - like a HEARTBEAT.  Each junk sculpture, representing a person, gets a heartbeat light.  It's gonna look awesome. And creepy. Which is the whole point. Also, we're gonna make a book of all the character's descriptions and display that, too, so people can read about everyone.  So, you're probably like, "cool, I guess that's creepy? Sorta?" No. Get this:

Creepy Thing #1: When naming her "fictional" character, one of the students named her character a name of an actual murder victim in Philly.  It was a strange name.  She swears she had never heard of the story before. They re-named the character something else in respect for the victim.

Creepy Thing #2: When the kids were thinking up the murder story, across the room from the student mentioned above, another kid simultaneously "brainstormed" the exact way that the actual victim from Creepy Thing #1, was murdered. Without knowing the story.

Creepy Thing #3: Every time Andrea went to this "creepy building" to do the workshop with the kids, she got severe stomach cramps and would eventually vomit.  Every day she was there.  After the workshop, as she was leaving the room by herself, she describes a "black mist" coming from the back of the otherwise totally bright and sunny room (it had large windows), moving towards her.  She ran from the building and hasn't been back, since.

Creepy Thing #4: One of the kids found an old teakettle in the basement of this creepy building they were working in, and used it to create their junk sculpture. As Andrea was moving everything back to her studio, this sculpture broke (multiple pieces, hot-glued together). She set the pieces aside in her studio.  The next day when she came into her studio, the pieces were re-assembled the way they were supposed to be originally.

Creepy Thing #5: Weird things have been happening in the studio since bringing everything there. While it was just us two working one day, a piece of glass fell off the table on the other side of the room, and shattered. Andrea was working one day and heard knocks at the door (no one there) and more stuff fell off the shelves.

Yes, so maybe the things falling were some weird minor earthquake things.  Maybe the black mist was some kind of weird mold, and that's what made Andrea sick.  Maybe it can all be explained away somehow, but I am one to believe that there's things out there that we don't have the ability to perceive (well, maybe some of us out there can).  Maybe some spirit or something is trying to make sense of this whole murder thing....maybe it's stirring up something painful and making someone mad.  I don't know, really, but Andrea says she could not be more ready to get this project done and out of her life.  Take from it what you will, but it's a crazy world, and nothing is black and white.

Until our next story,


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