A Shelter-in-Place Diary
Blog Post 1
Today Is March 28, 2020
Living through a global Pandemic is a strange experience. Humans everywhere are all affected in various ways and we are rapidly learning the "new normal" as it unfolds.
Yesterday, I watched a Instagram video from Elizabeth Gilbert... she was reflecting on a conversation she once had and said something to the effect of this: humans are uncomfortable with change, but we are VERY adaptable. In very little amount of time we adapt. We fear change, we struggle with it, but we can pivot in a moments notice, in a crisis, in a pandemic... to adjust to new rules, new thoughts, new realities.
I really like thinking about that, because I often think about our resiliency and our strength and our ability to endure.
I thought I would blog a bit, share a few thoughts and photos from our first week of "shelter in place" and my second week of social distancing.
In January we spent two days with our Olli class.
Our time together included a power point presentation that gave examples of installation art from various artists around the world. We talked a bit about our individual art practices and our WHY for participating in this particular project. One of the group favorites was this video of an installation by Daniel Wurtzel. Check out the link below, this piece is is beautiful and relaxing...Ballet de Plastique | Daniel WurtzelIn little to no time we became acquainted with our Olli students, we answered their preliminary questions and then set to work. We officially dubbed our participants as "STUDIO ASSISTANTS" and tasked them with hoops. Each hoop came with a corresponding bag of supplies.
On the first day. The studio assistants used glue, yarn and nimble fingers to completely wrap the pre made hoops.
On day two the studio assistants forged ahead on the creating portion. We encouraged each participant to insert their own creative ideas within the parameters we had set. This was exciting for us as artists because both myself and Barbie are highly encouraging and passionate about self expression. Some of our assistants worried that they would "mess up" or "do something wrong".
Barbie and I continued to offer our support and guidance all the while encouraging and boosting their own creative confidence.
It was very important for us that our assistants understand that we were less concerned about the end product they were creating and more invested in the process, the act of creating. We wanted them to explore, troubleshoot, play and take risks. We also wanted them to take ownership over their portion.
We made sure that each participant knew that they were an integral part of this project. THEY were creating the pieces that would later be assembled into our hanging mobile.
Volunteering & Community
One of the key aspects I think about in my art is the intersection between my work and the community. I consider the organizations I participate in, the activities I promote, the artwork I create and so much more when planning out my year. I simply cannot do all of the things I would like to but I do try to volunteer my time and energy when and where I can.
This is a story about one of those projects.
It began with my studio mate, friend and fellow community volunteer Barbie Perry. She approached me about an opportunity that friend and artist, Duffy Armstrong from Olli had presented. This was an idea for Barbie and I to teach a class at the winter workshop sessions that Osher Lifelong Learning Institute conduct. (You can learn about the organization here).
Lucky for us, we had just learned from the programming Librarian at Peoria Public Library, Karla W. that she had just the spot for an art installation. With that we set to work creating the workshop outline, researching, gathering materials, meeting with Karla and preparing. We knew that this would be big project to tackle and would require a balance of time and energy.
Barbie and I agreed to fearlessly dive into this project centered around creating a public art installation.
In one of our initial meetings with Karla W. we discussed measurements, logistics, and timeline. We were able to break the project down into small tasks that could be tackled easily over the several months we had to prepare. This helped to ensure that we were able to still work on our individual art practices.
Our earliest studio sessions involved concept design and execution projections. We knew that the artwork being created need to meet some of our conceptual goals. The library is a community space that while welcoming, is still a very utilitarian space. We wanted to bring soft, airy, feminine and ephemeral qualities to the space. We also had to consider that this piece needed to be achievable with a group of people who may or may not have artistic tendencies. We wanted the experience to be positive and successful as well as educational for our Olli students.
While both Barbie and myself believe in the importance of paying artists for their time and work, we volunteered our efforts in this project, in the same way that Olli runs completely on volunteers. Because we were not working with a budget for the project, we made a goal to spend little to no money on materials and supplies. We worked with items that we had on hand or were given to us.
Aluminum Boat Ramp poles, Rope, Twine, Glue, Fishing wire, pvc tubing, spray paint, yarn, string, wire, an old book, fabric, packing material, plastic waste, bubble wrap, and garbage bags.
To use these materials to create a mobile that could hang in the skylight area of the main branch of Peoria Public Library. We intended to best utilize the Olli participants to help assemble elements of the project.
We created 10 hoops from PVC tubing, glue and tape. Each hoop was spray painted. We designated materials that would be used for each hoop. During our Olli class we had our students wrap the hoops with yarn and then create interest and texture within the space of each hoop using the provided materials.
It's March and I have a collection of blog drafts that I started and never finished for one reason or other. There was the one I wrote about an exhibition I was in, it had all the info about when and where. Then there was the one I wrote recapping 2019. I have 12 total, they will probably live in the draft bin permanently. I had every intention, but things just fell apart.
Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed. Pulled in all the different directions. I started the year with a clear intention, but somewhere in between then and now I feel like I lost my way.
On one hand I want to recap everything and bring you up to speed. On the other, I just want to begin from here and move forward.
What will actually happen? Probably some messy combination of the two.
Messy is actually a pretty good word for describing me.
So... what has this messy artist lady been up to?
A quick recap...
After moving into my new studio, I rearranged no less than 75 times. (It's part of my process. Constantly shifting and changing. )
I painted a mural in the ladies restroom.
I had my work in a few exhibitions.
I launched my Play! workshops.
I taught a kids class at the Peoria Art Guild.
I joined the advisory team for Peoria Made.
I created a logo for North Art Studios.
I taught an Olli workshop with Barbie Perry, creating a community Art Installation.
I took lots of naps. I went on some trips. Some of my friendships deepened. Some have faded.
I ruined a few paint brushes, broke a few finger nails and wrote a few blog drafts.
Things have been steady.
Things have been slow.
It has all been rather messy, beautiful, chaotic, overwhelming, pleasant, exciting, frustrating, underwhelming, ordinary .... and everything in between.
Now that I've recapped a little of the last year, I'm just going to call this good. Let's begin again okay?
And... to be clear, This probably wont be the last time I drop the ball. It won't be the last time I get overwhelmed or feel disconnected. But I promise to keep going, to keep trying.
I hope you stick around. I'm glad your here.
I love using words to connect with my fellow humans.