Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Artists Make Creative Leaps by Taking Global Risks

A summary by Donna Dodson from the recent International Art Residencies and Symposia panel

Mary Sherman set the stage with the history of US residencies. They were designed to promote national agendas in contrast to what they have become, a forum for raising awareness of being a citizen in the world. She gained the perspective of being one among many and an awareness of how other nationalities have conversations with and about Americans. It changed her knowledge of art history to be a part of it in a global sense versus a national sense.

Batu made the point that sharing tools and learning new things from his peers was the part of the symposia that he looked forward to the most. As a teacher, he is energized from the experience of participating in symposia with peers from all over the world and building life long friendships. He also noted the importance of flattening the hierarchy of teacher/student through travel, exchange and sharing. These values are fundamental to his art making practice.

Donna Dodson went to Switzerland with the idea that she wanted to make a pregnant stork figure. The piece was developed in conversation with Kiki Thompson, a resident of Verbier, to celebrate the recent baby boom in town. She planned to use her vocabulary on a larger scale, but in a site specific way to the Alps. The piece changed in conversation with Paul Goodwin, curator to Tate Britain, who challenged her to take a bold risk with the placement of the piece, and not face it to the tourists, but perch it on the precipice of the valley, about to take wing.

Robert Markey described his public art and mural work in Brazil and Cambodia. As an external agent to a community, he is able to re-shape the relationships of street youth to police, and to demonstrate their value to the community. He teaches mural making and drawing skills, and in the process gets a community excited about art. By working internationally, he is able to reach a broader audience through his artwork than through temporary or gallery exhibits, and his art can have an impact beyond his local community in Mass. He brings back a global awareness to his studio practice, for example human trafficking, which is the subject of his recent work.

Roz Driscoll responded to the shape of the rivers, trees, and Greek architecture to create site specific work in residence in England at the Crypt Gallery. She described the process of leaving behind her studio, tools and materials, and making a creative leap, or taking an artistic risk she needed to in order to grow in her work. She brought nothing but she had everything with her, i.e. her experiences, knowledge and collaborative relationships to make new artwork.

John Weidman said as a director of an international symposium he wants artists to come empty, to experience the place, and to create from the heart. He doesn’t want artists to come with a proposal or pre-conceived notion of a piece. In his own work, he often re-visits narratives or themes, but crafts his work in site specific materials, referencing the past, present, future.

Kiki Thompson emphasized three points, Art Culture and Education. 3D foundation brought in a curator at the beginning and the end of the residency to shape the dialogue and conversation. They offered classes to the children in the community to de-mystify the art making process. They brought the artists to Art Basel which pushed her to make a creative leap with her piece, Samsara, or life cycle. She chose to make it black b/c she was responding to the black pieces at the fair the most. Life cycle celebrates birth and death, as a parallel to the seasons of nature.

For Andy Moerlein going to Switzerland and being in the Alps was like coming home to the mountains of Alaska. The people who loved the mountains loved his work the most. For Andy, there was a sharing of himself through his art and an understanding by the residents of Verbier that took place and transcended language. Art bridged the communication gap where meaning and an exchange of value, took place, he gave them art, and they gave him their appreciation.

Laura Baring-Gould described her experiences in Thailand. It changed her perspective of globalization where the stereotype was cheap goods are made in a poor country and consumed by a rich country. As an artist, a maker, and a story teller, Laura is using art to teach Americans about their history, and the Thai people are helping her with their casting techniques, ancient traditions, spiritual practices. They became real to one another, beyond the stereotypes of rich Americans who point at what they want done to working peers in the studio and poor Thai people lacking modern technology to people who are rich in the knowledge of their history, and who have the connectedness of art and culture as the fabric of their lives.

We heard people say that the dialogue would empower the young people in the audience to try out their own ideas in the world. We hope our experiences would encourage the students to take advantage of opportunities to travel abroad and learn from their experiences by reflection and peer dialogue. All of the presenters shared an idea that they wanted to put into place with the help of other people and resources in the community. That’s how we make things happen.

Thank you very much to our EVENT Hosts and SPONSORS:
The Derryfield School & Swissnex Consulate of Switzerland

Mary Sherman is the Director of TransCultural Exchange, an organization dedicated to promoting international art and the understanding of world cultures. Besides her work as an advocate of international creative dialogue, Mary Sherman is an artist and critic. She has participated in residencies in Romania, China, Korea, Chicago and was recently a guest artist at PROGR in Bern, Switzerland. Ms Sherman was an Artist in Residence of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, Cambridge MA.

Laura Baring-Gould, sculptor/installation artist. With extensive travel and work experience in various international settings (Mexico, Ireland, Southeast Asia), Baring-Gould received a 2008 Fulbright grant for artistic investigations in bronze and bamboo in Thailand. From 2006 - 2010 Baring-Gould lived and worked in Thailand creating public art commissions. Her presentation will focus on observations of how art and art-making are differently practiced and culturally valued, and the opportunities present in meaningful global interaction.

Sculptor Rosalyn (Roz) Driscoll just completed a summer artist's residency at Space, a program supported by Dartington Hall Trust, in Devon, UK. Her sculptures explore the sense of touch and the experience of the body. Driscoll’s engagement with touch and perception has led to her participating worldwide at conferences for neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, engineers, philosophers, designers, art historians, artists, and people working with disabilities. Her work has been exhibited in the US, Europe and Japan. Ms. Driscoll has received awards from the New England Foundation for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico.

Robert Markey is a painter, sculptor and multimedia artist. He has been traveling to Brazil and Cambodia for a number of years to work with disadvantaged kids creating mosaic murals. He is committed to purposeful community arts investment.

Batu Siharulidze, Associate Professor at BU and Director of the Graduate Sculpture program. He has a long resume of international residencies in China, India, Turkey, Great Britain, USA, the Netherlands and Georgia.

Kiki Thompson has exhibited in New Zealand, Switzerland, New York, California and London. Ms. Thompson is Co-founder of the Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park Residency and was a participating artist in its first edition in 2011. She lives and works in Verbier, Switzerland.

John Weidman is the Director of the Andres Institute of Art (the site of an annual International Stone Symposia) as well as Director of the Nashua NH Sculpture Symposium. Besides his responsibilities as a Symposia Director, John is an internationally known sculptor who has participated in two or more international residencies/symposia annually for over a decade.

Event Hosts:
Donna Dodson graduated cum laude from Wellesley College in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts. Since 2000, Dodson has been honored with solo shows nationwide for her wood sculptures. Dodson enjoys public speaking, and has been a guest speaker in conferences, panels and forums at museums and universities in North America . She is a member of the Wellesley College Friends of Art and She won a George Sugarman Foundation Grant in 2007. In 2011 she participated in the Verbier 3D Foundation's Artist Residency and Sculpture Park in the Swiss Alps where she created monumental outdoor sculpture.

Andy Moerlein has an extensive resume of public art works. His work has been shown in museums, sculpture gardens, and galleries from Alaska to New York. In 2011 he participated in the Verbier 3D foundation's Artist Residency and Sculpture Park in the Swiss Alps.

Mr. Moerlein has been an arts advocate, educator, and professional juror for over 30 years. He has been a teacher and gallery director at the Derryfield School in Manchester NH for 15 years. Moerlein holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Cornell University. He lives in Bow, NH.

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