Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Fun Little Workshop

So a little update.
I took part in a benefit show for Guitars For Vets. Running sound, providing sound equipment, and performing at the event as the Upper Strata.
A little workshop
On Memorial Day weekend I presented a small trial version of a veteran's workshop. The greatest comment I received was, "Wow that was fun when are you going to do this again?" And of course it is a fun a program you chat, you work, you discover, and piece something together. Found objects allow for whimsy and a sense of play to enter the process.

In progress work
I gathered nontraditional and traditional art materials and brought them to the Mesa Arts Center.
Classroom Mesa Arts Center.

Thrift store boxes and frames.

Along with a handout for deeper exploration and explanation, I brought in some of my found object pieces and put them on display at the Mesa Arts Center. 
As well several museum quality text panels were used to explain some of the concepts of the program including Cornell's works, the history of museums, and the first museums curiosity cabinets.
Students at work.

Finished veteran piece.

What I learned
Holiday weekends may sound appealing but folks tend to leave town take advantage of the extra day off etc.. so attendance for my program was impacted by the holiday. 
Have Enough Stuff
Materials, you never know what is going to inspire so the wider the range of materials the better. Another version of this program might include the search for materials, at thrift shops, hardware stores, vacant lots, hiking trails, and art supply stores. 
Physical limitations
Build in stretch breaks, pauses, and time discussions to those pauses. For example I discussed my works, Cornell's works, curio cabinets and the history of museums. Using big quality text panels as visual aids, and my pieces as examples I was able to present some concepts in a lively and understandable way. Many veterans are dealing with chronic pain sitting still for long periods of time can exasperate that pain. Example of how this might work, "your pieces are coming along nicely , lets come up to the front of the classroom to look at the display I have set up and talk about." As the class gathers they get to stretch walk a bit and change gears. Returning to their works they have some new concepts and are also refreshed from moving a bit. 
Jump in 
One of the best things I found was to jump in and do a piece as well. Kind of leading by example but also understanding how much time is realistically needed to finish a work. I was unable to complete my second piece but did complete a simple piece. If folks want to get more elaborate a second or third session should be arranged. One way of approaching the program might be a five part course including searching for objects, a museum visit, and two and a half sessions to work on pieces, the final half being reserved for discussion of the final pieces and the process. As a research project this would then be a chance to gather more information for artist's ethnography. It is easy enough to work side by side with someone and casually chat with them and gather more info at that time. As it was not a research project I did not obtain IRBs or do any real research instead I took the chance to see how to put on a program for vets and learn what sorts of considerations are unique to veterans. In my research proposal I stated that this was the goal of the project and I was in fact able to gather some of this information, leading me to believe that a workshop of the kind I presented would certainly work for my research goals. 
Still to be worked out
One consideration would be the potentially off putting process of presenting consent forms and IRBs to the volunteers, people tend to get icy to outsiders, and feel strange when under scrutiny or the gaze of a shrink. My volunteers built a bound with me some of them hugged me thanked me after the programs so I feel I connected but this was without there being a cold clinical element of official research. I am sure as I move forward that I will need to further consider the balancing act of being just a veteran supporter, artist, and friend and being some scientist studying veterans. 
New Work
Below are some images of the 2nd piece I began at the workshop and finished at home. I have entitled it Five Found Decay 2015.
First steps, under painting, selecting objects.

Five Found Decay, 2015. Finished version.Action figure detail.   
Action figure with active rust and patina. 

Cowboy with crackle glaze.

Found metal with crackle glaze

Found wood with crackle glaze

Found wood with crackle glaze

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Literature Review Art Brut, Material Culture, Veterans, Workshops and Museums

Museum related literature
The American Alliance of Museums' book New Forums: Art Museums & Communities (Pitman & Hirzy, 2004) is useful in that it addressed both the idea of museums as agents of change and community builders. The work discussed diverse communities and their relationship to the modern, dynamic museum. This relates to my research in that museums are shifting their focus to once disenfranchised communities and inviting them into a dialogue (Stankiewicz, 2001).
The essays presented in The Museum as a Place of Learning (Carr, 2001) provide a good philosophical basis for my proposed project for veterans. For example, Carr (2001) stated a set of ideas which will guide my action based research and the creation of the workshop.
The concepts are the following;
  1. Learners learn from learners (educators must still be learning)
  2. The institution is a community mind and educator
  3. Help always poses problems (danger of assumptions)
  4. The general public has a need to address the unknown in their lives
  5. The process of inquiring is more important than answers
  6. The truth is always constructed
  7. In our society there is an undercurrent of mindlessness, even anti-intellectualism museums afford a chance to counter act this negative current
  8. The museum is an unfinished cognitive process
  9. Every learner needs an advocate
        (Carr, 2001 p. 14)
“The institution is a community mind and educator,” fits the notion of the new museum as an agent of change – the focus of my research. “The truth is always constructed,” is key to both the museum research and the planned workshop. “Every learner needs an advocate”, is the foundation for museum programing (Carr, 2001). Further I am suggesting that veterans need museums to be their advocate.
Teaching Art in the Museum, from the Getty Institute suggested that the museum experience is and should be distinct from “the normal flow of life,” which is also essential to my proposed efforts (Burnham, 2011). Similar philosophies for museums are expressed throughout the work thoroughly conveying the new state of museums and their changing roles.
Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture (Bautista, 2013) analyzed both the current paradigm shift and the history of museums. Addressing the Internet and our connectedness as a set of “new cultural behaviors,” the author picked apart our concepts of actual space and virtual (Bautista, 2013, p. 24). The implications for museums that have traditionally focused on the physical space of the museum, the building, the collection and often the history of both, are huge. The idea that a quasi-sacredness has been replaced by a global web presence means a museum has the potential to impact diverse communities around the world.
Three main themes have emerged from the research into museum literature. First, museums have changed and are changing. Museums are fluid dynamic and no longer ivory towers of high culture and keepers of a single culture. We live in a globalized, wired, diverse, and ever-changing society; museums have sought to keep up with the shifts in thinking and consciousness that the United Nation's charter first mandated (Riedler, 2009). Second, museums can and should be agents of change, community centers and servants. Museums can provide lifelong learning and diverse programming like no other venue and should. Veterans and families of veterans should therefore be served and aided by the new museum. The work Role of Museums and Libraries in Strengthening Communities directly addressed this theme and set a sort of challenge to museums (Alizar, 2009). Questioning Assumptions: An Introduction to Front-End Studies in Museums by Dierking and Pollock (Dierking & Pollock, 1998), also looked into the museum’s new roles and ways that museums can do more as agents of change.
The third and most important concept is meaning. Museums help the general public find meaning. In museum terms meaning refers to an experience out-of-the-ordinary day-to-day routine that engages and enriches the museum guest (Carr, 2001). Meaning can incorporate an art viewer finding peace staring at a painting, a person feeling enriched by a lecture, or a child connecting to art through a hands-on activity. The challenge is for museums to consider how they are offering meaning (Dierking & Pollock, 1998).
Veterans related literature
My veteran’s research began with defining Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) the most concise counselor manual from the APA provides guidelines and protocols for working with victims of PTSD (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration [SAMHSA], 2005). The main work used in this study is Odysseus in America (Shay, 2002). Shay offered insight, advice and suggestions from his direct experience working with veterans. He explained the stages of recovery that veterans must pass through and offered that art therapy might be useful in this (Shay, 2002). Driscoll & Strauss (2009) provided in Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers With Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD an explanation of TBI and why it is so relevant to veterans from the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan.
Workshop and programing related literature
To determine if a workshop as a form of action based research would able to answer my research questions, I studied sources on workshops and programs. Jean Dubuffet has been an inspiration for the project throughout in that changing perceptions can help improve interactions and raise awareness. A discussion of the efforts of Dubuffet to change perceptions of the mentally ill and disabled through art was a connection discovered in the work, Shattered Forms Art Brut, Phantasms, Modernism (Weiss, 1992). A basic art therapy methodology for working with the severely injured, terminal, or sufferer of chronic pain, is presented in the work Healing with the Arts (Samuels & Lane, 2013) which will be useful for presenting a compassionate workshop. The work ArtScience offered tips for creating productive multidisciplinary workshops (Edwards, 2008). In specific he advocated creating an experimental climate versus a traditional classroom. He suggested it is helpful for participants to feel they are on a team that is trying to solve creative problems together. All three of these works provided different approaches and suggestions for putting on informal art based workshops.
Blandy & Bolin (2012) provided in their article “Looking at, Engaging More: Approaches for Investigating Material Culture” a rationale for the use of found objects. They discussed material culture and the significance cultures give to objects. The proposed workshop is based around constructing art with found objects. It is assumed that these items can then be used to communicate a wide range of ideas and emotions which is the main tenet of my planned workshop.
The Family Learning Forum (“Evaluation” section, How much data do you need?) – a project of the USS Constitution Museum – discussed strategies and methods for planning and assessing the effectiveness of programs and exhibits in museums. Using Dierking & Pollock (1998) as a model they advocated front-end and summative research in their writings, two forms of qualitative research used to create and rate museum efforts. Employing the above and Berg (2001) Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences, I developed a methodology for using action based research and ethnography through a museum workshop.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Museums as Agents of Change (Focus on Veterans) Presentation.

Museums as Agents of Change Presentation 
Here are the slides from my final presentation for Research Methods. The presentation depicts myplans for a museum workshop for veterans, the way I will conduct research and process data.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

PTSD, TBI and art therapy. part 4

I am proposing a workshop for vets and thought it responsible of me to do some research into a little of what vets are going, their concerns, and perhaps determine if there is a standard protocol for interacting with those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
I researched first the field manual used by counselors put out by the American Psychological Association know as TIP 42.

 Clip I ran across on the Official Military Health website.
It touches on and demonstrates some of the tricky issues veterans are dealing with when traumatized or seriously injured.
Full article from the site

Another article to check out

What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is really an anxiety based ailment (Shay, 2002 p.4)
In his incredible book Odysseus in America Dr. Shay describes his experiences working as VA counselor in D.C. He compares the classic work from Homer to the contemporary experiences of veterans returning home from war. That a two thousand year old work still sounds modern is one thing but that in all that time we haven't figured out how to stop making war is perhaps the real thing we should notice. 
Odysseus in America 

Most importantly for me and my research he Shay sets out some guide lines or a kind of protocol for working with vets. As well he describes the stages vets must pass through to reach recovery. For my interest he suggests ways that art therapy music therapy and none professionals can and might be able to do more for vets than hours of therapy. He describes the way that vets mistrust, "the system," and therefore loathe people waving degrees and accolades around and that simple listening being genuine might get you further in getting to know vets and also aid them more.
The biggest suggestion he makes is that vets and only vets understand what they are collectively going through. Any program that might get vets together allows them to sort things out on their level with mutual trust, respect, and understanding.
Other books on my research reading list.

Driscoll, P., & Straus, C. (2009). Hidden battles on unseen fronts: Stories of American soldiers with  
traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Drexel Hill, PA: Casemate.

Muscari, M. (2012). What nurses know-- PTSD. New York: DemosHealth.

Samuels, M., & Lane, M. (2013). Healing with the arts: A 12-week program to heal yourself and

your community. New York, New York: Atria paperback.

Shay, J. (2002). Odysseus in America: Combat trauma and the trials of homecoming. New York, New
York: Scribner.

Turk, D., & Winter, F. (2006). The pain survival guide: How to reclaim your life. Washington, DC: 
American Psychological Association.

Zayfert, C., & DeViva, J. (2011). When someone you love suffers from posttraumatic stress: What 
to expect and what you can do. New York: Guilford Press.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2005). Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders.Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 42. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-3992. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
ps I looked through the above publication from the APA and the recommended citation wasn't APA. They even hate APA and they are the APA.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Part 1 Current Research Project

ArtReach Focus on Vets
I am currently in one of my final grad courses Research Methods. In this class we will lock down our final project or capstone work. By the end we should have a usable proposal, references, a capstone committee, IRBs (research permission forms), and flushed out timeline for doing the research.

While doing my initial research I ran across an intriguing workshop, seminar and exhibit at the Oceanside Art Museum near San Diego. http://oma-online.org

The programing was in the current mode of museum work and museums in general that have shift from being collector of old stuff and the guardians of high culture or real worthy art, to education allies in a community. Agents of change and places for reflection and enrichment in todays overloaded world.
The program specifically reached out to the multigenerational military subculture. Programs address post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), coming back home after war, why we still make war as a species, and the many problems veterans face today. (sadly the museum has pulled any mention of the event from their site)
Inspired by the Oceanside Museum programing I decided I wanted to create a workshop for veterans.
I thought a memory box project would be a good place to start.
Memory Boxes
Some of my Cornell inspired works at the MIM.

It was suggested by my capstone chair that I put together a blog to follow the process of putting together the research project, workshop, eventual exhibit and coalescing my observations into my final grad project. 
So here is part one of the blog. 

Part 2 Found Art

Where do my Memory Boxes come from?
Joanna Roche was giving a guest lecture at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). It was senior seminar my final days in the art department, the late Louis Ciccotello led then. The late Jerry Riggs supported the local art scene through the gallery of contemporary art and in general in that time it felt like the art department was strong bolstered by the energetic and inspiring professor Roche.
She was then researching an artist I had never heard of Joseph Cornell. An odd collector of seemingly unconnected items, which he meticulously filed away for later use. Though he was acquainted with many of the Surrealist Luminaries whilst exiled in American during the second world war, he was untrained. He attended college for about a year, worked an odd assortment of jobs from gardener, to graphic artist, and eventual sold some of his self trained works.
As Joanna spoke on the artist and slides of his works flickered on the screen I was entranced, everyone was. Over the next three critiques, Cornell was apparent in most of the works.
I had previously played with light boxes and similar ideas to Cornell's but it would take years for me to work in true found media.
First, with found wood scraps and a sander in my Roadside Ruin works. 
Then with boxes in what I call Memory Box works, both Cornell homage and nod to my profession of many years the curio cabinet or Curiosity Cabinet.
Ode to the Muses, the word museum implies house of the muses a place for inspiration literally.
Several memory box works while at the MIM.
a Miro like work Entitled Flat landscape inspired by the Edwin Abbot work Flatland and the playful works of Paul Klee and Joan Miro.

Finally (accidentally) a work sharing the same title of a Cornell work, Penny Arcade. Though to my credit it is a title given to his piece which the artist left untitled. 
A local school that I done programs with and for actually attempted to copy this process after I visited the school and made memory boxes of their own this was my favorite one.
Abigal Wilkes

Next time Curiosity cabinets, shrunken heads, collectors, and thieves oh my!

Part 3 Curios, shrunken heads, and avid collectors oh my!

My Progress so far 

When I began this project I started with museum studies the history of museums, and eventually the current evolved thinking on museums. Beginning with curiosity cabinets and “undisciplined collections,” museums began as a mix of entertainment, eccentric collecting, and pure blarney (Perce, 1992, p. 120).

“It is this avid and ambitious desire to take possession of the object for the benefit of the owner which constitutes one of the outstanding features of western civilization” (Berger, 84 ?). 

Why do we collect things, why have we collected things? and what does this impulse imply about us as a species, civilization, or culture. 
Who collected historically has changed anyone can create art now or hang a cheap poster print of famous work if they desire. Art fairs and bohemian art districts have brought art to the masses without passing through the art establishment official academies of old or the sanctified art world of galleries and museums. "The high," art real art propaganda, anti-pluralistic, anti-feminist, preaching one faith, one culture and one race of the early 1900’s has given way to politically correct, multicultural, community minded museums (Weil, pg 81, 2002). 

Fred Wilson in his art installation Mining the Museum, explores the often hidden history lurking within a museum itself, the missing exhibits, telling as much as the actual ones 
(Wilson, p.19,1994).

Site specific installation, video installation, performance art have all shifted the art world from a visible tangled collectable commodity to the experience of art and art making. Perhaps beginning with Pollack, passing through Johns, and on to Warhol the art world has protested, mocked and sought to deny the need to create something that can be sold. Where does this leave museums the former cemetery of bric-a-brac, the keepers and definers of “real” art or “high art”(Pearce, p. 81 1992)?

Funding, shifts in the art world, and the demands of globalization have forced museums into new positions new roles and removed the premisy of space. A museum’s web presence is global, it’s collection can be open for anyone to see instead of being merely privy to the upper strata of society (Bautista p. 16, 2013).
If art museums and museums are telling stories then what sorts of stories are they telling and why? These questions led me to several books on creating history. Yes, according to the books I studied it is a creative process making up history as guide to the present. It is argued, “historians do not discover the past but create it.” (Jandrowitz, p25, 2002). Combined with the shift in museums if we accept that we are obliged to create stories to serve the present then museums are positioned to provide new meaning to wide variety of communities.
The writings that stemmed from a 2001 seminar at Cornell University combined under the title the Museum as a Place of Learning discuss at length the power and possibilities museums wield as agents of change and learning centers. The museum is an unfinished cognitive process that provides for socially constructed meaning (Carr, p51, 2001).
My goal is to use my experience in museums creating and presenting workshops programs, artwork, and general museum practices, to present a workshop focused on veterans. Using the found object works of Cornell a s neutral basis for the creative process I hope to oversee the creation of several small works. What I have titled Memory Boxes for their similarity to shrines, curio cabinets, and Cornell’s works are simple construction comprised of found or manipulated objects. Hardware, wire, buttons, junk found at a thrift store is recycled to form a narrative or some kind of symbolic meaning for the creator. The works are then interpreted by the viewer to form their own meaning. Being ready mades or found object pieces artistic training or skill are not needed, folks with limited movement or disabilities are not held back and the cost of the works is nominal.
In order to work with veterans I found it necessary to consult with several counselors and get accounted with a few veterans organizations. Through my music programs and abilities I was able to work Guitars for Vets a music therapy organization using basic music training to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and provide informal group therapy. Health Rhythms another similar organization uses a basic drum circle concept to provide an informal and fun environment for rehabilitation.

Further to insure that I had a basic understanding and some limited knowledge of the issues involved with PTSD I consulted with therapist and read through some literature on the subject.

Alizar, T. (2009). Role of museums and libraries in strengthening communities. New York: Nova Science.
Andrei, M. Genoways, H. (2008). museum origins (readings in early museum history and philosophy) Coast Press Walnut Creek CA
Bautista, S. S. (2013). Museums in the digital age: Changing meanings of place,
community, and culture. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
Berger, J (1973) ways of seeing, Penguin Books.
Burnham, R., & Kee, E. (2011). Teaching in the art museum: Interpretation as experience. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum.
Carr, D. (2001). The Museum as a place for learning. Ithaca, N.Y.: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University.
Dierking, L., & Pollock, W. (1998). Questioning assumptions: An introduction to
front-end studies in museums. Washington, D.C.: Association of
Science-Technology Centers.
Jandrowitz, J. (2002). Dominant and dormant past: A history senior seminar reader. S.l.:   
           Kendall Hunt.
Pearce, S (1992) museum objects and collections, Smithsonian Institute Press Washington
Pitman, B., & Hirzy, E. (2004). New forums: Art museums & communities. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums.
Riedler, M. (2009). The nature and notion of museums in the age of globalization. In E.
M. Delacruz, A. Arnold, A. Kuo, & M. Parsons, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 54-59). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.
Weil, S.E. (2002) making museums matter, Smithsonian Institute Press Washington

Wilson, F. (1994) mining the museum. The New Press.