31 July 2013

Room13Delmar has been the recipient of two art grants and much community funding in the past two months! It has been a heady time for the magic bag studio and I am very grateful for the support of both the arts and north of Delmar communities. If you have been keeping in touch, you know that all year I have been in conversation about the studio. Many people suggested I try a Kickstarter campaign. I love Kickstarter’s grassroots approach to arts funding but I also feel that its presence is being used by traditional funding sources to allow them to continue to support the safest, most institutional art. I felt from the beginning that community support of Room13Delmar was necessary to the work’s function as a tool for social change.

It is lovely to have the arts community support artmaking north of Delmar. It is lovely to have my community partners embrace our work together to the point where they are funding it. These actions make Room13Delmar theirs and are tangible expressions of their commitment to crossing the Delmar Divide. I think about each of them as I order the materials for the fabrication of the magic bag studio with the funds they have given. Thank you Critical Mass for the Visual Arts, Justine Petersen, St. Louis Regional Arts Commission and Urban Strategies for your support of both the physical Room13Delmar and the understanding that drives it.

8 March 2013

It’s been a bit since I have written. I know some of my time has been used trying to re-orient myself back into the artist bit of Room13Delmar. I spent much of the beginning of the year working to integrate the business and art pieces of the work in preparation for presenting it to a group of business people. I have learned that the artists in the group completely understood what I was describing and that for some of the business people, Room13Delmar was difficult to understand. I am kind of pleased with that because it means I did not abandon the art of Room13Delmar in my pitch.

However, afterwards, I did feel a need to just about physically re-orient my thinking. I missed talking about the art of it; while not talking about it, I developed a separation from it. I found me needing to ask myself, ‘what is the art of Room13Delmar itself? How is it a part of my artist practice?

During this same time I have had the absolute privilege of partnering as artist-in-residence with Metro St Louis Coalition for Inclusion and Equity (M-SLICE), a grassroots activist organization on the northside of St. Louis. They are committed to the power of using art as part of their actions and have created a relationship with me to do so. Our relationship is an authentic, organic manifestation of the goals of my practice from the process by which the pieces are realized to the beauty of the gestures themselves.

I love the relational aspects of my practice. It’s the private, reflective part of my practice I miss; I am craving space to make work that is solely about what I am thinking. Recently, I have come to understand that I need some time with my own head. This week I got a bit of that and it feels fabulous. I am writing this down because I think I may need reminding.

25 January 2013

I created a two minute ‘elevator pitch’ for Room13Delmar after being selected as a semi-finalist for a social venture grant. It was difficult to decide how to approach the pitch because I see so many connections around Room13Delmar; how was I, a durational artist, going to express myself in two minutes?? I had several drafts but eventually created something that I felt honored my practice and respected the format. Once the performance of the two minute piece was over, I really enjoyed my conversation with the panel of judges! In the end, I wasn’t selected as a finalist but I felt very good about the experience.

This morning I am thinking about the issue of scale. One of the questions I was asked at yesterday’s ‘elevator pitch’ was about how I would scale Room13Delmar; it was assumed the judge was talking about scaling up. I had an answer and we talked about it for a minute but what is interesting is the assumption behind the question that bigger is always a sign of better. I am not convinced. Bigger is a particular economic model. I believe strongly in the power of small, respectful, beautiful gestures. I continue to believe that there has to be a place of support for these types of engagements.

I posted the last paragraph on NODhouse’s facebook page and received this response from Clare Gibbs, the founder of Room13International: Scale it up… roll it out… franchise… just a few words and phrases that get thrust at Room 13 all the time. All wrong. Just let it be. If Room 13 can just be in many places at once so much the better!

This was so kind and affirming. It was nice to know that we share this thought about the way we want to be in the world. I wasn’t surprised because it was definitely the feel I got working at Room13Hareclive with artist-in-residents, Shani and Paul. The work to realize Room13Delmar as a physical object continues…..

 

24 December 2012

In the past two weeks I have:

  • been on a large public panel discussing issues around the Delmar Divide
  • been interviewed and filmed by the BBC about NODhouse
  • talked with a serious potential partner for Room13Delmar and NODhouse
  • had many many small scale meetings about issues related to Room13Delmar as far-ranging as grant writing, race relations in St. Louis, city politics, plans for a First Night installation and potential funders
  • spent a wonderful afternoon as Room13Delmar at the VA Hospital on Grand just north of Delmar listening, talking and teaching embroidery to patients and family members in the waiting room

I am so interested in the art of listening. I attended three ‘Delmar Divide’ events in ten days and was struck at each by the need of people to publicly tell their stories of the divide to people who are listening.

I am continuing to stay connected to Room13International and am looking forward to my next Room13Delmar magic bag experience. 

 

– six meetings in the past week

– one conference call

– nerves around upcoming panel discussion

– countless emails

Just keeping you up to date with the process; having many conversations in a variety contexts. Thinking about how my choices around who to go to for funding reflect my larger goals. For example, most of my grants have been, understandably, offered through the art establishment. Is this where I belong? Is this where I want to belong? What does the source of funding say about the practice?

 

26 November 2012

Durational artworks are only possible through the creation of relationships. I love working with Jen Francis. Without hesitation she joined the vision for NODhouse several years ago and I am so lucky to be able to continue working with her on the design for Room13Delmar. She is talented, enthusiastic and generous. Every time I open an email from her, I see my ideas coming to life. Here are the latest drawings.

14 November 2012

Went to the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) panel “How to Apply for Stuff” and the Skandalaris Center of Washington University’s “Coffee with the Experts” this week.

My takeaways from the VLAA event were:

  • people want artists to be successful,
  • know yourself and apply for things that fit your practice,
  • save your strongest image for last because it is what stays with the jury,
  • the understanding of what is public art in St. Louis is narrow and
  • keep on applying, it is always a new jury.

My takeaways from the Coffee with the Experts were:

  • people really do want to help each other succeed,
  • it is helpful to be able to talk face-to-face with others about your ideas,
  • $8,000 is really not that much money to request.

It is interesting to be ‘out there’ talking about Room13Delmar. It is such a large part of the piece right now as I raise funds to create the magic bag. I am trying to see this as a creative practice as well which is sometimes difficult because it seems so defined by non-creative ideas (money, grants, emails, etc). The time I am spending with others is crucial to the piece. I think what I enjoyed so much about today’s Coffee with the Experts was the juxtaposition of my artist-self with my burgeoning business-self. I heard myself talking; I could tell when I was comfortable talking about the parts of the Room13Delmar process I feel most deeply and the areas in which I am a bit unsure. I spoke best when I spoke from what I know from my artist self.

30 October 2012

I am a bit stuck really. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to get myself started on anything. There are no new specific grants to apply for and the creation of the magic bag is postponed for a bit. We were going to work on additional drawings of the bag but the storm on the east coast has my partners in Vermont (understandably) distracted. I am distracted by the storm too, even though I am in the middle of the country. True, my mom and sister’s family are on the east coast so I am keeping tabs on them but I feel more personally distracted. My non-place relationship to it seems to be amplifying my sense of dislocation in general after last year.

I need to be creating Room13Delmar’s light pole banner but am not sure what I want in the painting portion of it. Wheels (for the trike)? NODhouse (for location)? wall of Delmar? oooooh, maybe that’s it.

16 October 2012

I am going to begin today to document the creation of Room13Delmar. I have been working on it for a bit but have just decided to share the process. One of my favorite exhibits I saw while in England last year was Jeremy Deller’s “My Failures” exhibit as part of his survey show, Joy In People. How lovely to have a showing of ideas that were never realized. It was a gift to both fellow artists and to the viewing public to learn that even this Turner-prize winning artist is sometimes rejected. So it is with all humility that I share this process of making Room13Delmar a physical reality, rejections and all.