Zuihitsu: Look Only At the Waves
10.21.2012, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

from Zuihitsu: Look Only at the Waves (2012)

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.

During the tour of the Bay, we watched for moments when our intentions and attentions as artists and makers shifted at the mercy of intersecting, colliding, and compounding waves of natural forces, interests, insights, and diverse streams of meaning and story.  We asked ourselves and the students: how might such swerves inflect our work in new directions and intensities?  How might we meet the archipelago of islands near Portland not just as landscape, but as events in time?  And, how might we offer back to this streaming archipelago a dynamic image of itself?

map and ticket for the Casco Bay tour

the Casco Bay Mailboat

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 The root of the word includes the outdated Chinese character 隨 (Zui) meaning “at the mercy (of the waves).”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.”

installation, Zuihitsu: Look Only at the Waves (2012)

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.

 sections of wall text for Zuihitsu (2012)

from the Feasibility Project

Geologic City (2011)

sections of wall drawing, from Zuihitsu (2012)

For more information visit the USM gallery page.

*all images this page FOP 2012

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thank you to smudge for an incredibly fresh new perspective and tons of inspiration! You certainly have caused a giant swerve in my art processes. Your teaching approach of collaboration and of setting the stage are delightful. I am so thankful!

Comment by heartshandsminds

Hmmm lots of good ideas!

Comment by Elizabeth Roberts

Close to a year later and I am still at moments drawn back to this like a magnetic force. Thank you! I hope to visit you in Brooklyn! ~Louanne (from Kelly’s class)

Comment by heartshandsminds

Thank you Louanne! We hope to see you soon. It was such a fantastic experience collaborating with you all!

Comment by FOP

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