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Ben Tyson- Namesake at MOCHA

The Namesake at MOCHA

As an intern in the Marketing department at the Museum of Children’s Arts I was excited to collaborate on the development of MOCHA’s Big Read program. Upon hearing about the project I began reading The Namesake and found it to be a very interesting and well written story that put me in the shoes of someone going through an identity crisis while adjusting to a new culture. After reading the novel I became enthusiastic about participating in the project. Through the process I met new people, installed an exhibit, and learned a little bit about myself.

In the first week of October I went to Bancroft Senior Center and the Oakland Main Library. I was tasked with taking photographs of the art lessons that were eventually featured in the exhibition. As I began to take pictures I noticed that the children and the seniors interacted differently with their art projects. The children were focused on their art, while the seniors enjoyed the time spent with each other and the act of creating together.

The next week I visited Eastmont Library in East Oakland to take photographs of MOCHA Teaching Artist Kara Fortune. Kara has been with MOCHA for nearly three decades and has a lot of knowledge about art from different countries because of the traveling he’s done in his lifetime. He talked to me about how the art business works and encouraged me to see other places  and experience the world.

At the end of October all of the canvases from five libraries and two senior centers were finished. The Namesake exhibition had over 250 diverse pieces of people’s art, I worked with MOCHA Executive Director, Roxanne Padgett,  to install the canvasses in the museum and learned about contrasting colors and how they compliment each other visually. The construction of the exhibition included painting the walls as well as a mural. It was interesting to see so many different pieces of art come together to make an exhibition.

I took hundreds of photographs throughout the process which helped me understand composition, exposure, and interacting with the subjects I was photographing. MOCHA selected 18 of my photos to develop and display in the exhibition. It was the first time my photographs were printed and displayed in public like that.

Along the way I met some great people and observed some great art that was created by all different types of people, of all ages. I hung out with older folks trying out new things and trying art for the first time. I learned to do what you love, love where you came from and who you are now. What I really learned was to be open to new experiences. I met so many people that had so much energy and knowledge that they openly shared with me, and I’ll never forget the experience.

-Ben Tysonben-tyson

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