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This past week we had the pleasure of setting sail on Portland, Maine’s Casco Bay Mailboat with a brave and inventive group of Art and Art Education students from the University of Southern Maine. For three hours we addressed the world as a streaming event—as a continuous unfolding of things and people in the midst of changing, affecting one another, and becoming something different. We used the Mailboat as a means for locating ourselves physically in the midst of dynamic forces (natural, social, economic, temporal). This was our provocation to students as facilitators of a workshop we had designed as visiting artists for the week.
Another primary task for the workshop/journey: to create material and develop ideas for a collaborative exhibition at AERA Gallery.
The design of our workshop and exhibition were prompted by the Japanese term “zuihitsu,” which we first wrote about last April, while in Japan. Zuihitsu refers to non-linear modes of drawing and writing, sometimes described as “letting the brush lead.” The root of the word includes the outdated Chinese character 隨 (Zui) meaning “at the mercy (of the waves).” While on the boat, we invited students “to develop ways to both sense and ‘signal’ or creatively respond to ‘the mercy of the waves’—the swerves in perspective, perception, understanding, sensation, attraction, imagination—that take place when we are en route.”
Our fearless co-travelers are now generating work to add to the exhibition at Portland’s AREA gallery, opening October 24th. Their work will be on display alongside ours in Zuihitsu: Look Only at the Waves until December 9th, 2012 (the show also includes past smudge projects such as the Feasibility Project (2008), Below the Line (2010), Geologic City (2011) and Repository (2012). We are incredibly excited to see the results of the students’ responses to their field experience.
Our week at USM was an inspiring blur of class visits and presentations, but some of our most vivid moments occurred during the three hours spent on the Mailboat (and during the anomalous 4.0 earthquake that occurred 20 miles from Portland on October 16th). Our tour-responsive contribution to the exhibition takes the form of two large wall drawings of the Casco Bay. One is populated by polaroid photography, and the other is augmented/re-interpreted by the participating students. Selected images from the installation are included below, with sincere thanks again to our hosts, the USM Department of Art and Galleries, and to the students and faculty of USM for their unparalleled interest and energy.
from the Feasibility Project
Geologic City (2011)
For more information visit the USM gallery page.
*all images this page FOP 2012
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