Interlochen Citizen Artistry

Interlochen Citizen Artistry


Why is it important for artists to go out and connect with their community? Well, I don’t really see a point to art otherwise. I mean, you can’t sit in the corner of your studio and just make it for yourself. I mean, art inherently is to add something to the world, to bring something to our community. I like to draw, and I haven’t worked with watercolors in years, and now I’m thinking about trying it. So I’m gonna have my daughter pick me up some. Being part of community is giving back and so I think that citizen artistry is about making the community a better place, and at the same time, it’s building in your own self esteem that you have the ability to do that. We consider our studio to be the bus. Thank you for being good citizens and being good listeners, okay? Now, onward! So we get on the bus and we go to a site. So for instance, it could be the Children’s Museum where we installed a literacy-based project all around the museum. If you’re gonna go into art at all, or go through life, you will be critiqued and you will have to take feedback. “He wasn’t that enthusiastic last time. He looks scary.” That’s what they were saying. So you—so smile this time. No. That’s not what I do. That was scary. Mike was like, he would like look at your stuff and just be like, “You know, I’m not sure that this is going to work.” And that was like…. (unintelligible) It’s a really teachable moment. We call it, in education, a teachable moment when something doesn’t work the way you want it to, and that… is hard for artists. Well, sometimes the first reaction is kind of like shrivel like kind of like….. And then you’re kind of like, “okay, so maybe there’s something I can do to make it better,” and you just have to kind of keep going and keep persisting and having an idea. So what’s your name? I’m Bianca. Hi Bianca. Where are you from? We went to downtown Traverse City and painted three utility boxes. We totally transform the transformers. And now we are entering the artsy warehouse district: a little rough-and-tumble here in Traverse City, okay? This is where the artists live. In this intensive, it’s like… you are making in the presence and sometimes with others. We’ll take you over to your canvas, I guess. Let’s go. So you’re opening yourself up to the whole like community really watching and being able to comment on and give feedback to you in the moment that I think a lot of the time we as artists hold as sacred. Well, citizen artistry really does kind of give that push into the community. I mean, I’ve never really done anything art-related in the community before. Most days, I would paint at home in my room. But this class really did get me excited to work with more people and work with those around me. Look at this group! More cool. Cooler! Get cooler! It’s hard to explain, but they’re very refreshing to be around. And I think age is just a number. They have a lot of energy, which is kind of scarce around here. I believe that this experience next week is sort of like the crown jewel. Right? It’s the….. biggest interaction. We are gonna have, one-on-one. People say that end-stage dementia is like being locked away, because they can’t talk to you. But when you put something in front of them as sensory and tactile and you know, it’s— it stimulates their brain. They start to come awake. Well, my grandma passed away three years ago. She had Alzheimer’s, and she just needed help in every daily task that we usually take for granted. I saw so much of that in the people at the dementia center. Especially with Ron. He kind of was comfortable with being complacent almost, and that was like something that I saw in his eyes that I saw also in my grandmother, so it was really important for me when Benny and I got to talk to him and start conversations and we could see when he spoke about something that he was passionate about his eyes just lit up and that just like I think really brought a good feeling in my heart that I was doing something with my art that could benefit the community and really had apparent change and something that was like right here now that I could see that I had made a difference. Megan told us that Ron had been the most engaged and emotionally open as he had been in a long time, even before he came to the center and so our interactions with him really improved his daily life.

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