Making Art

Making Collaborative art is a very interesting and intriguing process. On one hand, if you have a collective, it is easy to participate and the ideas always seem to be free flowing. At the same time it is harder maybe to get everything done in a timely matter, every detail has to be discussed, thought out, every opinion needs to be heard. But the collective is always there to push you forward to do more, exciting things. On the other hand, working by yourself, you really get to enjoy the process of just creating, whatever comes to mind just putting it on the paper. If you don't like it get rid of it, no need to discuss (except maybe with yourself if you've been in the studio too long). There is the satisfaction of accomplishment, an often tangible manifest of what you have been doing with your time, something tangible, almost like a trophy for a job well done. You could argue that you can get the same sense of accomplishment in a collective, but i just don't feel that way.

For example, growing up I was a swimmer, a very individual sport, always trying to beat your own personal best time. There was nothing better than pushing yourself having nothing to depend on other than your own muscles. And sometimes it is hard to push yourself to go to practice. But ultimately the struggle makes it seem even more like an accomplishment. Now playing on a soccer team, I do get a sense of pride when my team wins, but never the sense of wow I really worked as hard as I could and look at what I can do. Both are very satisfying in their own ways. I would not say I enjoyed one more than the other they are just very different feelings.

I feel the same way about the work that we have created this semester. I truly enjoyed working collaboratively, and I think the end result was definitely not something I could have gotten on my own, but I don't think that that feeling will ever fully replace my desire to just sit down with paint brush and create something that expresses my feelings. And I agree with Nikki, I often have a hard time pushing myself to sit down and just paint, especially with so many distractions around, but in the end again, I think the struggle makes the work even more satisfying. I truly hope there is space and time for me to work collaboratively and independently in the future.

Floating Lab Collective

This is now the second time I have seen the Floating Lab collective. Each time I see them I am more and more impressed with their ability to work together and speak collectively on projects. As in the class presentation each of them would start talking about a project, then say "oh I wasn't really that involved, why doesn't someone else talk about it?", but the first person had already given in depth background knowledge about the project. Each member of the collective seemed to be very involved, if n ot with each project, with what was going on within the collective. Each person seemed in tune with what the others were thinking and planning and everyone seemed to work fairly well toward a common goal. I was very impressed by the collective nature of the group.

I think my favorite work they did was with the day laborers Dream Houses. I think this project was really creative, exciting, and has the potential to make a huge impact on the community. it speas about the day laborers personally and as a group, showing that each person is human nas hopes and dreams and as a group of people they deserve to have rights to achieve those goals and dreams. ithink the end result could have a huge impact on government and policy. I can jsut imagine all of these dream houses being set up before the mayor of baltimore and it being a trully moving exhibit that has the ability to mak a change. And that is what I like about art and especially collective art such as the projects done by floating lab. Perhaps more so than individual art, it has the ability to become bigger than one person and oneidea and can truly make a difference. Same with the Protestors in Mexico. That project must have been hugely empowering to each individual who participated, but if iwas a government official i would have been concerned to see all of these people looking for an outlet to express their beliefs. I guess that is partially the nature of a protest, but I think that maybe protests are overused, easy to ignore. Just goes to show just how powerful and important art can be.


what do you say

...when you don't want a collaboration? Don't get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed this class and our collaborations. I think that it has opened my mind to new forms of art and ways of thinking. But what do you say when you really just want to do a project on your own? When you really don't want input from other people- at least not until the critique portion of art making. I am a photographer- by the nature of the art form, I am confined (usually by myself) to small, dark spaces. Maybe it's in my nature, maybe it's that I have been using a darkroom for printmaking for over a decade at this point- but I love that most of the time I am art making no body sees it until it is done. There is no influence, there is no last minute suggestions for change- it is simply my art.

This might seems like I don't want to collaborate on art projects any more, but that is simply not the case. I do! I just want some of the things I make to be all mine. Argue against it or not, but I (as all artists have) was once asked why I make art? My answer then and now; to make art. Sometimes it has a message, sometimes it doesn't. But I make it to make me happy, to fulfill an expression, to create. Though we are in an academic environment and are subsequently surrounded by art, artists, and art making there are of course going to be outside influences and others input. But I can't help but longing for a studio of my own, or an hour alone to create. I think that is why I chose primarily to create at home. My space isn't as big as I'd like, or even as I need, but it will suffice for now.


Farolynian thinking

Farolyn's last post about collaborative cooking has stirred up my thinking. Over the semester she has spoken about cooking, theatrical production, TV taping, news reporting, and other activities as being slyly collaborative endeavors. It appears many products in our world are the result of collective efforts.

All of this makes me wonder, what isn't collaborative? Do I do any fruit-bearing activity entirely on my own? And, is it 'bad' if I don't?

Let's look at a typical day is the life of me. What what products do I produce and what activities make them?

I get up, get clean, and commute to work. Products produced: pollution? Yes, that's collaborative, I suppose.

At work as a graphic designer I work in proximity with the client, the printing house, my boss, and other employees. I need input from all of those sources to enable an appropriate final product. Products produced: print designs (posters, brochures, etc). Very collaborative, now that I think about it.

Commute to school... more collaborative pollution.

At school I make art projects and contribute to class discussions. The art projects are made with concern for the preexisting guidelines and the comments of my peers as I work. That seems collaborative, right? Certainly the class discussions are collective performances.

Commute home... more collaborative pollution.

Next I cook dinner. I usually do the heating and stirring alone, but I certainly don't grow the vegetables and grains myself. If I'm using and recombining someone else's (collaborative) product like bread, is my dinner collaborative? In the art world, isn't that like drawing on or collaging someone else's images? Does the person need to be aware of the collaboration to be a partner in a project?

Finally I do homework that ranges from reading a book to working on a group project. I guess these projects' collaborative status depends on the individual activity done to create them. Then again, I can't remember the last time I completed a homework with some input on theories or grammar from a classmate or a friend. Even this blog entry is part of a collective whole.

Maybe I really don't produce anything entirely on my own. But, I think I'm OK with that. ...do I need someone else to agree with my here before my ideas are valid?

Floating Lab Collective

I also enjoyed hearing the members of the Floating Lab collective speak in class last week. It was really interesting to see the way three different members spoke about their work, and interacted so closely with one another. Like Farolyn, I also was most intrigued by the "Protest on Demand" project. I have never heard of anything quite like it. What I wanted to ask them was how they marketed themselves and this project ahead of time in order to get so many protest requests. This question came up several times in my mind as they kept saying how many requests they received. In the Mexico City version, it seemed like they just positioned themselves in a busy area and relied on foot traffic, but in the Washington DC protests, requests had to come in through the internet. I wonder about how it was marketed and what type of audience was attracted to participate and send in protest requests to an artist collective. One of the most important and also most tricky factors in collaborative, participatory art seems to be the element of participant(s). With the Airwaves project, the participants turned out to be surprisingly positive, productive elements of the collaborative project. With Protest on Demand, the same seems true. What would happen, however, if very few people participated in either project? It would determine a lot about the "success" of the project. I am curious about what steps FLC takes to ensure that there is success on the participant side of their projects?

Another thing I was struck by was how much of a commitment each member seemed to make to the group. I am impressed that they seem so dedicated to the group and their work together and that they are so organized in many ways--in terms of getting together to discuss ideas and also in more technical aspects such as funding and grant-writing. When I was reading Nikki's last post and her request to start a collective, one of the first things that came into my mind was, Why isn't there some sort of collective in place at the Corcoran already? or Is there a student collective that I don't know about? It seems like an art school is the prime place for an artists collective to start, as Floating Lab has done through George Mason. I would guess that one of the barriers to creating a collective is the practical aspect of time and organization. From the example that FLC gave us, it seems like there is definitely a solid requirement of time and organization in starting a collective. I like the idea a lot, but would not feel able to contribute much to a collaborative group right now. Maybe the key is flexibility, which FLC also seems to have down.


Thoughts on Floating Lab

I really appreciated the presentation about/by Floating Lab last week. Here's a roundabout explanation of why, and what I'm thinking about now:

I majored in studio art and art history in undergrad. The studio major I added because I love the challenge of art creation. I am a nerdy problem solver, not an 'artist,' per se. I have never aspired to be a professional artist. However, I will always want to continue making fine art.

Since graduation, I have been worried that personal art making would not play a big enough role in my life. Of course, in the future I will counsel others on art creation, but I want to stay active, too. My issue always is, I only really make artwork when it's part of an assignment. I need the parameters and constrictions as muses. I need something to nerd-out on. Without someone setting forth problems, I have no creative soil bed from which to grow out. I also love discussing ideas and experimenting with others.

As you may see, I think I have been designed to work in an artist collective; I don't want any personal credit, I believe 5 heads are better than one, and all I really need in life is a set of problems to solve- even if they're to enable someone else's vision.

The question now is, what ought I do? How do collectives get started? Floating Lab appears to be made of George Mason University affiliates. I wonder, how did they end up working together? In this academic program at the Corcoran, I am not often surrounded with studio nerds with the same artistic affections as mine. Nor are ads for wannabe collaborative artists common on Craigslist. Oh, and I don't even hold a particular vision or question in mind that I would like to investigate through collaborative art.

What's a girl to do? Anyone want to start a collective with me?

Collaborative art form

Cooking is a collaborative art form. I watch many cooking shows but did not realize this until I was in the kitchen this Thanksgiving holiday. I believe the Collab Studio class has helped me build a broader but more meaningful definition of collaborative artwork. On many of the cooking shows on the Food Network there is one chef delighted to shower recipes upon us but it takes a whole team of folks to document the show, set the stage, provide a script, assist with costume design, and the wonderful task of tasting the food. In my kitchen at home there is a team of three people. One person usually has a memory bank with a wealth of recipes methodically stored, another person is in charge of monitoring the temperature of food to prevent burning and last but not least a person is usually responsible for the tasting, dishwashing and storing of food. I always choose the latter, I may have to wash dishes but I am rewarded with early samples of scrumptious dishes.  

I initially thought this class would teach me how to create successful collaborative projects for the art classroom but I have learned more about being a team member. I believe this experience and knowledge will be useful when I do teach in a classroom full-time. As a team member and student I am becoming a better educator. I am deeply humbled by my experiences in the collaborative art world and look forward to many more joyous projects. 

Floating Lab

Before Floating Lab Collective entered the room I began to reflect on the collaborative projects completed in our class. As the group began to speak I immediately noticed the humility and sincerity of the members. I can not remember the names of the Floating Lab Collective members but I recall the ease and relaxed energy within the group. I wondered, 'How can a group this big function? How do they measure success? How do they finance the projects?' Floating Lab Collective seemed concerning with social injustice, world peace, freedom of speech and many more public and personal issues in the media today. 

I was most fascinated by the Protests on Demand. The group gave a voice to many concerns that remain closeted in the homes of many residents. The community had an opportunity to share their issues with the public. Floating Lab Collective is a resourceful group. A local artist created the colorful large heads for a thesis project and gave the heads to Floating Lab Collective to utilize. I enjoyed the color scheme which was intended to unify the group and set the group apart from the usual crowds in the district. 

Below are a few notes from the presentation, I was most concerned with the measurement of success for projects. I desired to know how this large group functions and how they gain the trust of community members. 

- Authenticity is key. In order to gain trust from the community the group must do what they promise. Never exploit the people of the community. 
- Group members must remember that there is more than one author or creator of a project. Everyone is building on each other's ideas. The project belongs to the group and not to one individual that may have initiated the thought or creation of a work.

- A group is stronger in comparison to one person. There is strength in numbers. People are always more accepting of a group than a single person. 
- It is always good to reach out to the community. 

- Always document work using voice and visual devises such as a camera or recorder.

- Keys for a successful project include coordination, participation (lots of people), inventory (ex. email results from Protests on Demand), and vision. If a project happens exactly how the group members envisioned, it is a success!