Project: Right Now
In the Fall of 2012 two beginning sculpture classes were given the challenge of creating an exhibition. This was not a "make it/critique it" studio exercise, but instead was an opportunity to create both sculpture and a pop-up exhibition that was based on a theme and that intersected with community members. Both groups of sculptors were given the topic of the geographical site itself, the rural village of College Corner. This was in part because the site for the exhibition was located there. At the kickoff charrette, I told a story of College Corner from the perspective of a recently added community member. The group then researched the social structure of the town including business and cultural demographics, history, and current social issues. The sculptors broke into teams and tackled two challenges: making work and making a show.
“Right Now” is the work of a collective of students from Miami University, exploring foundations of sculptural processes and theories in art. As a class, we are experimenting with the possibilities of engaging limited space in a creative and visual manner. By incorporating commonly found objects, in a plain and empty space, we are trying to change how one might perceive these things and, importantly how they are associated in society.
The challenge for the work was that it spoke to an aspect of their research. Teams were encouraged to use simple means and found objects if available (some items from the antique business had been left behind). Some of the collaborative teams chose a formal, installation approach while some chose to create performances and interactive experiences. The creation of the work required many trips to the site during and outside of the class meeting time, work in the studio, and many hours installing on site.
The challenge for the exhibition was multifaceted and included the creation of the traditional requirements for a show. This included the choice of an exhibition title, the creation of graphics for mailing/distributing, the creation of exhibition graphics for the site, the marketing of the show through social media, and the organization of food and drink for the reception. Additional challenges came with the site itself. It was a former antique store (now empty) on the town square, making it an ideal location, but it had no heat or running water, and was located 15 minutes away from Oxford (the location of Miami University, the students' home institution). The team had to bring in heaters (the show was held in December), arrange for local businesses to allow visitors to use their bathroom facilities, and had to provide incentives for university attendance. A final challenge was to connect through community attendance, which was addressed through introductions to local businesses and notifications through social media.