No Ghost Just A Shell

Sometimes you have to know when to quit so attached is a link to my blog from last semester's Digital Media class http://saragib.wordpress.com. There you will find my presentation for today. For whatever reason, mostly likely my own incompetence, I could not figure out how to post the presentation on this blog.  So here it is. I will of course talk about it in class but it is here for anyone who wants more information and/or wants to check out the links. 

Slightly Nervous about all this....

I don't think I'm so good at collaborating...
This class is interesting because its the exact opposite of every other studio class I've had. Either way though, I'm slightly nervous about future collaborative prospects....


I was thinking about Collaborative Art and how it fits into education and it occurred to me that collaborative art could be a very useful tool for those kids in your class that don't see themselves as creative people. Kids who think they can't draw or paint or aren't talented in visual arts would probably have a much easier time in creating collaborative art with their peers, perhaps sometimes without evening knowing that they are creating art and could be used as a very powerful tool to raise self esteem and confidence in the process of art making. 

It also builds on the theme of community (which seems to be the hot topic lately). Kids work together in a community and make, learn and create through relationships. In this community students also build on and realize their own identity within the context of that community (of artists) and as an artist and a part of a larger community (of society). 


Integrative Art Experience

Out of random curiosity I googled Collab Studio. Our blog is number 3 on the results list! Wow! After scrolling through the results, I found Collab Studio- Pain is Humor. Professor Pamela Allen teaches Collaborative Studio at Troy University. Collaborative Studio (Troy University) is a fine arts course where students from each studio arts concentration join together for an integrative art experience. Every aspect of the project was directed by the students including the online art gallery.

This site inspired an idea. Artists are often isolated; working alone in studios, parks, and alleys. The 'ability to work as a team member' is often mentioned during job interviews and listed as one of many qualifications on a job application. What if each student from the Corcoran were given an opportunity to collaborate with a student studying a different medium? The partners would be randomly selected to prevent the 'I like you so let's work together' syndrome. Students would be asked to create a social commentary on a topic or news headline of their choice. The choice of medium, meeting hours, and etc. would be arranged by the artists participating in the activity. I believe a collaboration of this kind will help broaden the knowledge of unfamiliar mediums and techniques, expand artistic interests and encourage experiential learning. The collaboration would also help artists develop better social skills. 

During sophomore year at the Corcoran I participated in a collaborative project with a fellow fine arts student. The Fine Arts Core teachers required each student to collaborate with another student. To my knowledge this project was part of "50 Works" which required students to create 50 works of art in a short amount of time. Students were provided with a list of 50 instructional words or phrases. For example, #27 might have read 'create a highly tactile object.' During the time of this project I was interested in creating colorful, graphite illustrations of scriptural quotations from Revelation. I worked with Antea Roberts, a ceramist, who was exploring body image and Greek architectural designs at the time. Together we created an 18" x 24" illustration of celestial creatures, and water. Antea and I worked on the illustration for a couple of hours nonstop. While drawing we developed a narrative to explain the complex imagery. When we completed the piece neither of us argued about who would display the work or who was honorable enough to sign the back of the picture. After the "50 works" exhibit was removed we agreed that I would take the picture, I still have the drawing tucked in my studio to this day. From this experience I learned to enjoy the process of collaborating, to appreciate a team member's vision, and to smile often while working.


Collaborative Effort

The article brought to mind a collaborative project titled Airwaves installed last semester at the Corcoran. The installation depended on the participation of bystanders. "Airwaves, a participatory installation conceived by Elana McDermot, Jenna Lee, and Farolyn Taylor of Mark Cameron Boyd’s Graduate Collaborative Studio, focuses on the effect of music on the creation of art. Participants were asked to listen to two different sound tracks, of either harmonious or dissonant sounds, then to create a continuous line drawing on the corresponding work based on the sounds they heard."1

In class we spoke about the difference between interaction, collective action, participation and collaboration. Maria Lind describes participation as "more widely associated with the creation of a context in which participants can take part in something that someone else has created but where there are, nevertheless, opportunities to have an impact."2 I recall the day of installation. Many people volunteered to leave a special mark on the canvas. Were these participants collaborators? Without there participation the canvas would have remained empty of intersecting lines, jagged ropes, and sailboats. The project was shared with strangers, critiqued by strangers and enjoyed by strangers. The participant became a collaborator as soon as the ear buds rested on their earlobes. And what about the many onlookers that passed by watching, eager to view but uninterested in participating. Is there a difference between the producer and the receiver? Was the viewer a participant? I believe so. The viewer was taking part in the installation through observation.3

I must revisit the last page of the article where Maria Lind poses two questions. One: Does it make any difference if diverse forms of artistic collaboration lie behind method which produces better results? Second: Is collaboration a better method which produces better results?4 I will tackle the second question by citing the article. I do believe that collaboration produces better results. On page 16, Maria Lind states, "At the same time, it is worth underlining the obvious-as Brian Holmes does; namely that even the lone artist in their studio is dependent upon contributions from others."5 We as artists engage in collaborative projects daily. I remember on countless occasions asking my close relatives for advice on a painting or a sculpture. Was I collaborating with them? I say yes because we exchanged knowledge, ideas, and preferences. Their views helped shape my perspective of an artwork. Come to think about it, no artwork is purely designed and conceived by one person. Many people seek counsel from old masters or contemporary stylist. We are all collaborators, collaborating with someone else to better ourselves and our community through the power of art.

1. Written by Jenna Lee
2. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 17.
3. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 17.
4. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 29.
5. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 16.