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