After almost two years as a member of Berea Makerspace, I have moved my mural and other large scale art activities to a new creative space located in Old Town/Artisan Village in Berea, KY. This is a partnership with an artistic other, a generous donor and several other artistic types who would like to offer a work and sales space to artists who don’t quite fit in with other artistic organizations in the area.
In particular my partner and I want to offer an “alternative” art space to folks whose work and artistic philosophies may not be in alignment with more traditional arts organizations in the area. We plan to create a Facebook and Events pages soon, and will be scheduling monthly “critiques” and salon-style get togethers in the coming months.
Enjoy the slide show. This is a mural panel that got stalled in the middle of its community creation in the Berea middle and high schools because of COVID-19 school closures. My plan is to finish it and work with the schools to have it installed where the makers can see it and be inspired by it late this summer. When that panel is gone I plan to create a whole series of mural panels on polytab (mural cloth), modeled on another mural I helped create at a homeless shelter, and sell them to whomever is willing to display them publicly, and help pay for the installation.
A group of about twenty EKU freshman and leaders in the First Year Experience program helped me finish our multi-panel mural project on December 5, 2019 in EKU’s beautiful Noel Studios. This was the last of four fall sessions, strategically chosen for their position on the academic calendar during challenging times (first weeks of term, pre-fall break, mid-terms, finals). The purpose of the mural project was to provide a quiet, mindful space to create without judgment, as well as teach the participants how taking creative risks can help them learn to be more resilient during tough times and challenging situations. We often can’t change what’s happening, but we can choose how we feel about and deal with it!
As with all my community art projects, participants help design and execute the project. My single contribution to the mural was the word “resilience” — and sponging paint around the edges. Participants collectively and collaboratively chose the color scheme, shapes and their position, and choice and placement of additional handwritten words.
As usual at each session there were folks reluctant to participate who were soon drawing and painting with finesse and gusto. Also as usual we talked while we worked, and about many things including the myth of mistakes (they are really opportunities) and ownership issues when one is working on a collaborative artwork (meaning giving up control, which can be freeing instead of frustrating).
I look forward to similar projects in the upcoming new year!!
On October 30, 2019 I felt I made significant inroads on Hold Up Hold On!, a community art mural project centered on youth resilience and mental health awareness. See the HUHO! page for details.
It has been three years since I was a full-time teaching artist in after school programs, so I am getting up to speed in a hurry on student engagement, which has become even more challenging. I initially hoped for a single, well attended event where we gathered photographs and text — but we got no takers even though we (my creative female team of a high school and Berea College student) distributed postcards and did an informational tabling outside of the cafeteria. But I don’t give up easy, if at all.
Yesterday I was invited into an art classroom to talk to kids face to face, and pitch the project. As always, it was satisfying and stunning to see how some reacted. And we got a participant in the afternoon who helped us brainstorm and update our mural composition. Read more about the experience in the blog!