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filling spaces

ARTinside: filling spaces was a social sculpture project at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center that used art to fill the empty spaces inside the facility, and perhaps inside the participants.

During this 8-week project, teens worked with community educators from USgathering and Madison Public Library’s Bubbler program to transform the empty spaces of the detention center, creating site-specific art installations that were developed by the group and that used their inorganic debris generated every day, such as juice cups, milk cartons and cereal containers.

The experience challenged participants to think about their role in our environment, while also promoting teamwork, self confidence and social development.

Listen to USgathering's Victor Castro discuss the project on WORT's Monday Eight O’Clock BuzzAnd come check out the Bubbler Made art show in the art gallery at Central Library where ARTinside is well represented!


View other Bubbler projects within Dane County's juvenile justice system.

WEEK 1: filling spaces

The kickoff to ARTinside was exciting for teen participants and detention staff as they were introduced to the world of USgathering (AKA Victor Castro, AKA Sato) and a new workshop model. 

Participants chose nicknames, assembled their masks, formed groups, and began working together to develop rules for the 8-week project. The remainder of the session was spent formulating designs out of the consumable materials they were collecting and cleaning for the past two weeks at the center.


During our second week of the project, we chose nicknames, assembled masks, finished and installed some art pieces from last week, and started developing new designes.  A few of this week's participants definitely started to understand the possibilities (and frustrations) that come with thinking outside of the box.

The center was abuzz immediately after we ended today as teen participants, detention staff and project facilitators discussed the possibilities and future results of the project!










The group chose nicknames, assembled masks and got right to work. It was great to see a number of participants start to take ownership of the project this week.  Energy was high and teams worked well together, and it showed in their work and written reactions.

We installed some of the excellent new art pieces and several participants had such an enjoyable time that they stayed to help until every last thing was picked up.

Adios for now!


The participants have started to show more interested in working with the juice cups rather than the milk cartons, and the facilitators are wondering if it has to do with the different process or how the final results look. We shall find out!

Participants voted to take down and disassemble the juice cup creations from previous weeks in order to reform new sculptures. The new juice cup pieces were hung in the skylight and have been the centerpiece of discussion amongst teens and staff.

Week 5

The group decided to keep saving the juice containers and worked solely with milk cartons this week.  Today was very productive and fast-paced thanks to a change in tools: replacing the tape dispenser with a stapler.

With Pandora's instrumental rap channel playing in the background, participants started out working individually as they tested structural ideas, then voted for the top three ideas they wanted to expand upon and broke up into teams to work.


The participants broke themselves up into three teams this week, in order to each focus on using a different material -- juice cups, milk cartons & cereal bowls.  As you can see in the pictures, the space is starting to fill up with their art projects.  We can almost taste the pride flowing out of the participants as they show off their projects, choose a location to hang it and observe the finished installation from afar.

Staff continues to provide us with positive feedback regarding how they see this program providing a spark in the day for the teens and opening their world up to conceptual art, all while highlighting the waste generated through their daily lives.


The open spaces are filling up and we're told many of the participants are proud to point out their pieces to staff, visitors, and teens new to the facility. 

While some past participants jumped right into elaborating on their previous projects, there was a lot of laughter and excitement as the new participants paged through the binders we created to document each week of the project. One binder is always available in their classroom, while another is currently on display in the art gallery at Central Library.

We were surprised to see fantastic new ideas continue to bubble up while still using the same materials from Week 1. Even Capt. Fantastic (staff) expressed his change of heart about the potentials of this project!  

One more week!

WEEK 8: finding spaces



We were surprised with a chorus of "boos" when we opened the session confirming that today was the final day of the ARTinside project. But a "boo" never sounded so good!  We were still explaining the concepts (or lack there of) to the new participants when the veterans forged ahead and began to collect their materials and discuss their concepts. 

The display of enthusiasm and rush to get working caught us off guard in that we didn't have time to prompt everyone with a solid look at the open spaces in the facility. Well, at least the open spaces that we had planned to fill.  WIth plenty of juice cups saved up for this final week, there were three new and unique chandeliers created and installed in the second skylight inside the facility, and the milk carton sculptures finally made their way into the center's library. 

May-June 2014: Check out the Bubbler Made show in the art gallery at Central Library where ARTinside is well represented!



USgathering is a Social Sculpture Project developed and coordinated by Mexican artist Victor Castro.  Learn more about all things USgathering with this nifty list of resources.