First off, thanks for reading this blog. Most likely, we've met in some art event in the past month, or on the street, or by pure chance. In this entry, I'll talk about what collaboration between artists can be and how it is crucial to helping the community as a whole grow and change for the better.
Openness and working together are qualities that we need to promote more often within the Philly art community- too often, we hole ourselves up in our studios and only venture to interact with the outside world when we want to have somebody buy our stuff. To be honest, though, maybe I'm speaking for myself… still, I don't see artists teaming up on a project together too often. And it's a real shame.
Some of the best moments in art comes from interaction with another artist- a couple of famous examples being Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh or Andy Warhol and Basquiat. Almost invariably, when two or more people decide to set aside their differences and work together, all sorts of pleasant surprises result- and perhaps they gain more openness to new ideas going forward. Or, maybe new techniques to try. Or best of all, new friends that you can trust and rely on for mutual support and guidance.
All of these things happened to me in the last year. In fact, I started 2013 with the resolution to do collaborative work, at every opportunity that I could. The people that I would collaborate with would vary from situation to situation- some were artists friends that were randomly hanging out at my house, one friend I met via Instagram and collaborated via email, still other projects included getting ordinary people that were passing by to color in my black-and-white pieces. All of these situations made me thirst for more opportunities to share, grow, and try a bit harder to be a more empathetic person.
As time wore on, I saw the additional benefits of collaboration, everywhere, everyplace. In particular, I was thinking of the good that this interactivity would do for communities that were otherwise not engaged with the arts. So, I decided to set up shop in public places and ask people to join in and paint with me. This was a decision that affected me and made me truly appreciate the depths of creativity that was around me, but would not ordinarily be able to see. When I asked people from the street to join in and help color in black and white pieces, they would usually start by, "Are you sure?!"...but gradually lose their inhibitions and join in for a few minutes. It also broadened my internal definition of "artist"- who can range from someone with an M.F.A. from PAFA, to a person that has a more instinctual, outsider relationship with aesthetics in general. Now, with the little that I have done with my forays into collaboration, I wonder what else is possible.
On October 4th, more than 50 people helped paint a 40" by 60" piece, using every color in the rainbow. A picture from the event is on the left. The art piece was created thanks to an ongoing partnership with Small But Mighty Arts, a Philadelphia-based grant organization that supports emerging artists of all disciplines. The piece, along with other Manic Machine productions, will be auctioned off by the end of 2014. I'll keep you posted.
Ok, I'm off. It was good catching up with you.
Be well, and stay connected.