Monday, October 4, 2010

How Share went down

This past Saturday, I was invited to participate in the 1 year anniversary celebration of SHARE, "an event series that brings small groups of artists (writers, painters, actors, musicians, dancers, culinary artists) together to create from the same one-word prompt."

The event showcased some of the work from the last year of SHARE events. The organizers also invited thirty or so artists to create live at the event itself. I was one of those artists.

At 2 p.m. I was at SCRAP prowling for supplies, checking my iPhone for the prompt. By 2:03 I was getting impatient and sent an email to Margaret Malone asking for the prompt. My email had just crossed the one she sent to all the artists.

Cue Banjo music while I run around the store again looking for inspiration. Between...

Yes! I find a kit for making a wooden flower press that has 5 pieces of 6"x 6" plywood for pressing the flowers between. Get it? "Between"? I like how specific and contained the square pieces of plywood feel to me.

I stopped by Columbia Art and Drafting and picked up a basic set of word carving tools. I had a vague feeling that I wanted to carve words into the squares? Questions maybe?

Since we would have a live audience, I wanted to get them involved somehow. I liked the idea of something emerging from my choice of materials, a random prompt, and a conversation between me and another specific and random person at the event.

6 p.m. and the audience starts arriving. I put up a sign inviting people to sit down on a couch with me and have a conversation. I handed each person a card with a question.

The best part of the evening for me were the four conversations that ensued. Common themes came up - the nature of happiness, the role of money and time in attaining our goals, fear, death, things outside of our control.

Now I had to make something in response to each conversation, and I had two hours to complete all four.

I dove into the first one, working intuitively, combining every image that came to my mind as I listened to the first person telling me what stood between her and wanted she wanted most.

I had painted the wood black so that the cuts revealed the wood underneath. The materials were unfamilar and not particularly suited to each other. In short, I didn't know what I was doing, but I pressed ahead.

When it was time to start the second piece, I realized that there were similar themes in the conversations, so I wanted to use some of the same images, but it was clear that I couldn't work to the same level of detail as in the first piece. I simplified the image and changed materials.

By the time I started the piece based on the third conversation, the theme was feeling a little heavy. I was most interested in an aside. "I have a cat named Jelly!" she told me. "I love him. He's an ass. The relationship is completely on his terms. He's all male. He watches me undress, and it makes me a little uncomfortable."

That was fun. I finished the fourth piece just as the event was finishing.

When it was over, I was spent, and wished I had spent the evening in the audience, just enjoying myself, checking out the performance and the food and the other artists. I didn't really get to visit with anyone - including a lot of friends who were there. I thought to myself, I'll never do this again. Exhausting.

But this morning, thinking back on it, it was another great creative experience - working without a net, dealing with fears and expectations and serendipity and failures. It was great.

Congrats to Kathleen and Margaret and Chris Haberman for an outstanding event, and to Margaret and Kathleen for a cool idea. Big and risky and experimental and fun. I get the same vibe from SHARE as I did from RIPE in the early days. Something self-defining, born out of passion, nourishing the community, inventing itself and evolving as it grows.


Lloyd Winter said...

What an interesting idea Jelly. I learned from my experience at SHARE, that complex images are hard to accomplish in the short time allotted. Working simply and collaboratively seems to work very well. I really need to get my ass to another SHARE. So fun.

lady said...

Thanks for this blog, Jelly.
Being on the other side of the event, it's super rewarding to hear your take on the evening.
I especially love the fact that you shared the full spectrum of your feeling about the creating and the "crash" and the eventual acceptance of your creations - incredibly cool.

Also, I wanted to tell you how much i loved your wood cuttings. They reminded me of some (imagined) punk rock album covers that I worshipped in my youth - stark, specific & true all at once. Thanks so much for contributing and for your thoughtful comments.


Marilyn said...

That was a great post. I loved the word and fly. Art is NOT dead!